Global Cooperation, Tackling Root Causes Central to Fight against Terrorism, World Leaders Stress on Third Day of General Debate

GA/11950
21 September 2017
Seventy-second Session, 11th to 14th Meetings (AM, PM & Night)

Global Cooperation, Tackling Root Causes Central to Fight against Terrorism, World Leaders Stress on Third Day of General Debate

Barbuda Did Not Stand Faintest Chance, Prime Minister Says, as Small Island States Recount Recent Climate-Related Disasters

Spotlighting terrorism as one of today’s greatest challenges, Heads of State and other Government officials outlined their vision for combating that phenomenon — including through stronger international cooperation and efforts to address its root causes — as the General Assembly entered the third day of its annual high-level debate.

Throughout the day, many of the speakers voiced support for the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy as a common platform for action, while also welcoming the Assembly’s recent establishment of a United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism.  However, opinions diverged widely on the causes of terrorism — with some attributing it to grievances resulting from foreign interventions or colonial domination — as well as on specific policies to eradicate it.

“Terrorism is now a global phenomenon, which must be addressed comprehensively,” said Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi of Pakistan.  Noting that the long wars and foreign interventions in neighbouring Afghanistan had blighted his country with a flow of extremists and terrorists, guns and drugs, he rejected attempts to scapegoat his nation as well as claims that it provided haven to terrorists.  Pointing out Pakistan’s efforts had enabled the decimation of Al-Qaida in the wake of the 11 September attack on New York, he called for more action to address the phenomenon’s root causes.  In addition, he said, the international community had failed to address the issue of State-sponsored terrorism.

President Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi Mansour of Yemen noted that his country was ending its third year of war against the Houthi coalition, which had rebelled against the political processes carried out under United Nations auspices.  That coalition used violence and terrorism to implement an Iranian expansion agenda in the region, he stressed, adding that Yemenis were grappling with extremist religious sects that believed they possessed superiority and a right to rule, while refusing calls for peace.  In that context, he called on the international community to put pressure on the rebels to implement the relevant Security Council resolutions and agree to compromise, as well as for its continued support in the face of the many challenges resulting from the war.

President Michel Aoun of Lebanon said the many conflicts in his region had trapped its people in poverty and turned the Middle East into a hotbed of extremism.  Any solution to that challenge should be accompanied by economic and social measures aimed at achieving growth and improving social conditions for young people.  “World War Three has taken a new form” as countries — suffering from religious or ethnic extremism — now rejected each other’s right to exist.  In that regard, he cautioned that countries’ increasing sectarian and ethnic divisions would only increase fanaticism, extremism and conflicts.

Crown Prince Al Hussein Bin Abdullah II of Jordan pointed out that the world had spent $1.7 trillion on arms, but had fallen short by $1.7 billion to answer the United Nations appeal to support Syrian refugees.  War economies continued to thrive, while real economies suffered.  “The United Nations is our global conscience, but for too many in my country and others around the world trying to do good, it sometimes feels like the world’s conscience is on ‘silent mode’,” he said.

Many speakers throughout the day called on their fellow world leaders to help break down barriers between peoples, enhance cooperation in combating terrorism and other threats, and resolve conflicts peacefully through multilateral negotiations.  Some cited the rapidly escalating nuclear tensions on the Korean Peninsula as one arena where diplomacy must urgently prevail.

President Moon Jae-In of the Republic of Korea said that, as President of the world’s only divided country, peace was both his calling and his historical duty.  Voicing strong support for a diplomatic resolution of the issue, he said that despite the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s recent nuclear provocations, “we do not desire the collapse of North Korea”, nor would his country seek unification by absorption or artificial means.  If Pyongyang made the decision to “stand on the right side of history”, his Government was ready to assist alongside the international community, he said, urging the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to abandon its hostile policies and its nuclear weapons programme in a verifiable and irreversible manner.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Sergey V. Lavrov of the Russian Federation agreed that there could only be a diplomatic solution the issue on the Korean Peninsula, cautioning against “military hysteria” that could lead to disaster.  Emphasizing the importance of the United Nations Charter principles of independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of States, he noted that many of today’s challenges had resulted from attempts to remove regimes, ultimately opening space for terrorism.  While his country had always abided by those Charter principles, some Western States — including those in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) — were now trying to expand their presence in the East, provoking instability in the post-Soviet area and creating anti-Russian sentiment.  Those actions were the root causes of the present conflict in eastern Ukraine, he added.

Meanwhile, Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel of Germany said the actions of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea illustrated the urgent need for the international community to work together to send the message that the world would not accept that country’s’ provocations.  Warning against a worldview that saw the globe as a battleground in which everyone fought against everyone else to assert their own interests, he said that after two world wars Germany had learned to see its former enemies as neighbours and partners with whom it wanted to pursue a peaceful coexistence.  In international cooperation, no one lost sovereignty, he stressed, adding that the motto “our country first” would only lead to more confrontations and less prosperity.

President Tommy Remengesau of Palau said that while broader issues of peace and security were often at the forefront of international conversation, small island States faced their own set of unique challenges.  He warned that many more storms or “ticking time bombs” like the ones that recently battered the Caribbean were to come, ready to wipe out years of progress.  In that context, cooperation among nations must be expanded based on fairness, and the only body that could do that was the United Nations.

Prime Minister and Minister for Finance and Corporate Governance Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda said that half of his two-island nation had been completely “decimated” by Hurricane Irma.  “Barbuda did not stand the faintest chance.”  He stressed that “it is simply a stretch beyond our reach” to rebuild.  Antigua and Barbuda required assistance from the international community, he stressed, adding:  “We have not stretched the palm of our hand because we crave, we plead because we need.”  Two Category 5 hurricanes had hit the Caribbean in just 12 days.  That could no longer be dismissed as “vagaries of the weather”.  Climate change must be attributed to nations that consumed the most and emitted dangerous levels of pollution.  All 14 Caribbean nations together produced less than 0.1 per cent of global emissions, he said, urging the international community to provide financing at concessionary rates without artificial impediments.

Also speaking today were the Heads of State and Government of Serbia, Haiti, Cyprus, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Gabon, Seychelles, Croatia, Canada, Samoa, Slovenia, El Salvador, Comoros, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe, Zimbabwe, Indonesia, Tuvalu, Georgia, Mauritius, Bangladesh, Vanuatu, Guinea-Bissau and Togo, as well as the Vice-President of Botswana.

Ministers from China, Mexico, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Spain, Luxembourg, and Denmark also participated.

The representatives of Ukraine, India, Afghanistan and Pakistan spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 9 a.m. on Friday, 22 September, to continue its general debate.

Statements

ALEKSANDAR VUČIĆ, President of Serbia, said that, while some leaders had taken the podium to accuse others, “I will do my best to avoid such an approach”.  Instead, he would speak about Serbia, its people and its re-entry into the world.  The country was trying to understand the world, even if sometimes it did not agree with its great Powers.  “Unlike some leaders, I have no need to patronize my people or run an election campaign from the Assembly’s podium,” he stressed.  Outlining a number of conditions to ensure a prosperous future for all countries of the Balkans, he pointed first to the maintenance of peace and security in the region, “no matter what”.  Economic growth and social reforms were also prerequisites, he said.

In that vein, he said, Serbia had demonstrated that with responsible politics or fiscal consolidation — even without huge privatization incomes — a country could have a budget surplus, reduce unemployment and create a flexible labour market.  Belgrade had also bolstered its investments in young people, including in technological fields.  Within the region, Serbia based its relations on mutual trust and respect, he said, adding that reaching a political solution on the issue of Kosovo and Metohija was of paramount importance.  While Belgrade did not recognize Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence, it had worked to resolve that situation peacefully.  The gains achieved through the European Union‑facilitated dialogue in Brussels were the result of difficult compromises and concessions on both sides, but mostly by Serbia, demonstrating the country’s constructiveness and commitment to dialogue.  He called on the international community to block Kosovo’s bid to join the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), noting that it had taken part in the destruction of many Serbian cultural sites.

“Serbs are more than eager to continue with successful economic reforms” and the creation of a regional economic zone, “which we will not give up on”, he said.  “Today, we are too small as individual markets to have better and more prosperous performance.”  The establishment of a unique customs zone and tax system was the future of the region.  Equally important was Serbia’s path towards European Union membership, he said, noting that the bloc was his country’s most important trade and investment partner.  “We all want to be a part of the European Union, but sometimes people in the Balkans and people in Serbia are treated in an unfairly different manner than those who had embarked that boat earlier,” he said.

Emphasizing that Serbia would never abandon its policy of military neutrality, he said that while striving towards European Union membership and strengthened relationships with Western countries, it also cherished the best possible relations with the Russian Federation and China.  “We’ll always stand ready to observe developments in today’s world, not by judging superficially what is right or wrong, or what is just or unjust,” he said, adding:  “We have never threatened anybody nor will we.”  Serbia would always dare to condemn “if somebody, by launching only a single missile”, forced inhabitants of a Japanese island to spend the night in shelters.  Likewise, Serbia stood in solidarity with Syrian, Afghan, sub-Saharan and other refugees, and would not relent in confronting terrorism and radical Islamic movements such as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) or Al-Qaida.

Underscoring the importance of fighting poverty and social inequality — especially in the context of preventing radicalism and extremism — he said the integration of all citizens of all religions and political or other affiliations into modern society based on common values was critical, “but with respect for right to identity, and respecting everybody”.

JOVENEL MOISE, President of Haiti, said the mission of the United Nations had never been so important, and thus, it was necessary to adapt the Organization to modern realities on the ground.  Expressing support for any initiative that could contain crises and seek the peaceful resolution of conflicts, he encouraged the United Nations to move along the path of conflict prevention.  Haiti had always spoken out against the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and he condemned States’ blatant desire to acquire and increase nuclear arsenals.  He also expressed concern about the ongoing crises in Syria and Venezuela, as well as the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

Haiti was deeply committed to the environmental facets of sustainable development, he said, and sought to build resilience against natural disasters that had consistently beleaguered its people and brother countries in the Caribbean.  His Government was committed to the Paris Agreement on climate change, and wished to see those countries most responsible for greenhouse gas production contribute the resources necessary for implementing that deal.  In the Caribbean, recent climatic events had drawn attention to the ways in which climate affected Haiti.  Such weather phenomena were due to the impact of humans on the environment, he stressed.  In January 2018, when Haiti assumed the presidency of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), it would organize a regional conference aimed at establishing an inter-State commission that would devise a strategy for addressing climate issues, such as the availability of climate insurance.

More broadly, he said Haiti had taken steps to consolidate democracy and the rule of law, having made significant efforts to promote development and political stability.  Noting that corruption had “infected” and shrunk Haiti’s economy, and compromised its political situation, he said it was time that official development aid (ODA) and domestic resources upheld the interests of the Haitian nation.  Corruption had prevented basic resources from being allocated to citizens, depriving them of adequate energy distribution, quality education, drinking water and socioeconomic opportunities.  Haiti’s new leaders were waging an unwavering struggle against such behaviour.  Efforts were also under way to guarantee the independence of and increase the effectiveness of the judicial apparatus.

While the international community had spent more than a decade supporting security in Haiti, and had provided help when disaster struck, he said Haiti was using all levers available to grow the economy, despite its limited resources.  It was striving to create decent jobs for young people, and had made human resources management part of the State reform process.  His Government was determined to provide opportunities to the most vulnerable members of society, to ensure they were not tempted to leave the country, many times under life-threatening conditions.  Haiti could not allow institutions to be weakened or corruption to widen the distance between citizens and the State.  Haitians were acutely aware that they were responsible for their country’s development, he continued.

Addressing two phenomena stemming from the United Nations presence in Haiti — the odious sexual abuse and exploitation by peacekeepers and United Nations staff, and the cholera epidemic — he said the Organization was morally obliged to provide the recourses to ensure that cholera left the country.  Improving Haiti’s health system, including by eradicating cholera, was a priority for his Government.  Despite some progress, the number of cholera victims stood at 10,000 people and continued to grow.  Further, there were tens of thousands of cholera orphans.  The United Nations must live by and give tangible form to its noble ideals, he stressed, by shouldering all its responsibilities to remedy the situation, which had caused grave harm to the Haitian people.

MOON JAE-IN, President of the Republic of Korea, said that, while his country was “belatedly a democracy”, it had shown the world a “new hope for democracy”.  Building on that strength, it intended to play an active role in addressing international issues.  In the last five years, it had increased financial assistance for refugees 15‑fold, accelerated implementation of the Paris Agreement and met the goal of filling 30 per cent of its Cabinet with female ministers.  Indeed, his new Administration had placed people at the centre of all its policies.

Explaining that he was from a refugee town, born during the Korean War into one of the “separated families”, whose human rights had been violated, he said the war persisted today in the form of an uneasy ceasefire on the Peninsula.  Thus, as the President of the “only divided country”, peace was a calling and a historical duty.  “I believe peace, when chosen willingly, becomes sound and sustainable,” he said.  Yet, to his country’s great indignation, Pyongyang had carried out its sixth nuclear test, and in its wake, the Seoul Government had worked to convince countries in the region — and beyond — of the need for stronger sanctions on North Korea, to pressure it into halting its provocations and choosing the path of dialogue.

The Security Council’s unanimous adoption of the latest sanctions resolution, with “unprecedented” speed, reflected the international outrage.  “We do not desire the collapse of North Korea,” he declared.  “We will not seek unification by absorption or artificial means”.  If Pyongyang made the decision to “stand on the right side of history”, his Government was ready to assist with the international community.  He urged “North Korea” to abandon its hostile policies and its nuclear weapons programme in a verifiable and irreversible manner.  The international community must sternly respond until “North Korea” did so, with all nations thoroughly implementing the Council resolutions and seeking new measures should provocations persist.  The situation must be managed in a stable manner to ensure tensions did not intensify or accidental military clashes did not destroy peace.

He said the basic spirit of a security community, enshrined in the United Nations Charter, should be fulfilled on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia.  Having announced a new economic map for the Peninsula and vision for the “northern economy”, he said genuine peace and prosperity would begin when the foundation for a Northeast Asian economic community was solidified, on one side, and multilateral security cooperation materialized, on the other.  The Olympic Winter Games would be held in Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea, in 2018, followed by Tokyo in 2020 and Beijing in 2022.  He expressed hope that they would become an opportunity for promoting peace and economic cooperation.  He looked forward to welcoming athletes from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in Pyeongchang, cheered by a joint South-North Korean squad.  “It’s not an impossible dream,” he said.

MICHEL AOUN, President of Lebanon, recalled that, 16 years ago, terrorism had struck New York and claimed thousands of lives.  “This tragic event ignited an international war against terrorism,” which had now spread and lost its purpose, he said, noting that many countries in the Middle East had borne the brunt of its results.  Terrorism had since grown bloodier and spread to all continents.  “No one knows how far this terrorism will reach and how it will end,” he said.  While Lebanon had been one of the phenomenon’s earliest targets, the Government had prevented anyone from crossing the red line of national security and stability.  Indeed, despite terrorists’ abilities to organize in some towns and cities, Lebanon had been able to eliminate terrorists, as had recently been seen in its victories against ISIL/Da’esh along the border with Syria.

“The Lebanese people have proven that they are humanitarian and responsible,” he said, noting that they had welcomed Syrian refugees, sharing food, schools and other resources with them.  Nevertheless, waves of displacement and refugees had increased Lebanon’s population by 50 per cent, he said, citing severe overcrowding, a deteriorating economic situation and increased crime.  More dangerous was the fact that terrorists had taken shelter among the refugees, making the need to resettle displaced persons to their homelands urgent.  Lebanon distinguished between “voluntary” and “safe” return, based on the reasons for displacement.  In cases of individual asylum for political reasons, political refugees would voluntarily decide when to return, with acceptance by the host country.  Lebanon considered the collective asylum taking place in its territory — for economic and security reasons — as displacement, rather than asylum, as it had not received host country acceptance, and thus, constituted “population invasion”.

Responding to claims that those people would not be safe if they returned to Syria, he said Syria’s Government had now taken back some 85 per cent of its territory and was reconciling with armed groups.  Displaced persons were living in misery and unhealthy environments, despite the support Lebanon had provided, and it was painful for Lebanon to be unable to improve their situation.  “There is no doubt that it would be better if the United Nations assisted them in returning to their homeland rather than helping them remain in camps,” he stressed.  Noting that thousands of Palestinian refugees also remained displaced from their homeland, he said no serious efforts had been made by the United Nations — or Security Council — to implement the two-State solution.  The crime of expelling Palestinians from their land could not be rectified by another crime against the Lebanese people by imposing neutralization, or against the Palestinians, by denying them the right of return.

Noting that all those conflicts had trapped the Middle East in poverty and turned it into a hotbed of extremism, he said any solution should be accompanied by economic and social measures aimed at achieving growth and improving social conditions for young people.  He called on the United Nations to seriously consider establishing a “joint Eastern market”.  Spotlighting Lebanon’s historic ethnic and religious diversity, he warned that “World War Three has taken a new form” as countries — suffering from religious or ethnic extremism — now rejected each other’s right to exist.  “The division of States into sectarian or ethnic groups is not the solution, and it would not prevent wars,” he stressed.  On the contrary, it would only increase fanaticism, extremism and conflicts.  He proposed the creation of an institution dedicated to providing peace education, with a focus on forgiveness and coexistence, and that Lebanon become a permanent centre for such dialogue.  He also put forward Lebanon’s candidacy for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council.

NICOS ANASTASIADES, President of Cyprus, said multilateralism was the only way to achieve such global goals as the preservation of the planet, the peaceful resolution of conflicts and the eradication of terrorism.  It was only through collective efforts that countries could address the crisis involving the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which threatened the world’s non-proliferation and disarmament regimes, and the region’s peace and security architecture.  Cooperation was also crucial for tackling terrorism, which had become commonplace from Baghdad to Kabul, Paris to Cairo and from Barcelona to London.

“There is no security without development, and there is no development without security,” he said.  Enhancing the resilience of societies was a key aspect of multilateral endeavours, and thus, international determination to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development must remain a priority.  Sustainable development was at the heart of addressing the causes of the forced migration which had dominated the global agenda for two years, putting pressure on Governments and societies alike, and changing the way political dialogue was carried out.  Underlining the need for solidarity and burden-sharing — as well as for a just and effective global governance system — he expressed support for the Secretary-General’s reform priorities to ensure that, at a time of growing scepticism and isolationist tendencies, multilateralism remained relevant and effective.

The Assembly’s focus on people was pertinent for Cyprus as it struggled from the scourges of war and its ongoing violent division, he said.  Ensuring the full independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of all Member States was crucial.  Yet, Cyprus continued to endure the consequences of a blatant violation of those principles by Turkey, which had invaded Cyprus in 1974 and now occupied the island.  Recalling that the pretext for that invasion had been to restore constitutional order, he said 37 per cent of Cyprus had been occupied and its population forcibly displaced.  Thousands had been murdered and more than 1,000 Greek Cypriots were missing.

“It is not my aim to engage in a blame game,” he said, expressing regret that despite his country’s constructive stance, talks on that issue were again deadlocked.  Cyprus was established in 1960, with Turkey, United Kingdom and Greece undertaking a guarantee of its independence, territorial integrity and security.  However, Turkey had exploited that provision.  In recent negotiations, the Secretary-General had presented six fundamental thematic topics consisting, on the one hand, of the Chapter of Security and Guarantees — including the withdrawal of foreign troops — and, on the other hand, issues related to the internal aspects of the Cyprus problem.  Achieving convergences on that framework would have led to a strategic agreement and injected a dynamic new impetus, as well as hope that an overall settlement was feasible.

Responding to the statement delivered this week by the President of Turkey, who attributed the unsuccessful outcome of recent negotiations to the Greek Cypriot side, he underscored Cyprus’s aspiration to establish an independent and sovereign State free from the presence of occupying troops.  “Is it irrational to advocate for the establishment of a normal State in which all decisions will be taken only by its citizens, free from foreign dependencies?” he asked.  His vision was only to end the unacceptable status quo.  In that context, he called on Member States to support the convening of a new conference on Cyprus, and efforts to avoid a repetition of past shortcomings.

ROCH MARC CHRISTIAN KABORÉ, President of Burkina Faso, said the Assembly was meeting amid the challenges of preserving peace and security, combating extremism and terrorism, eradicating poverty, achieving sustainable development, and creating fairer international order.  Just two years ago, the world had adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, and while the subsequent entry into force of the Paris Agreement had been welcomed, there were still obstacles to creating peace and prosperity.  Every day, men and women died from a lack of care, children did not receive basic education and young people faced the rage of the seas in search of a better future.  There must be a move from rhetoric to action to ensure better results for the world’s people.

For its part, Burkina Faso was committed to economic development, he said, carrying out major structural reforms with a view to attracting investments that strengthened participative democracy.  Citizens were at the heart of the State’s work, while an open Government partnership and the first national action plan were being prepared.  Burkina Faso was working to strengthen its democratic institutions and a draft constitution would soon be submitted to a referendum.  Terrorists had targeted Burkina Faso country and he was fully aware of their desire to destabilize the country and the region.  Combating terrorism was a national priority, although doing so would require a subregional approach, with a focus on economic development in the most vulnerable areas, especially in the north.  Terrorism was a global scourge that struck indiscriminately and it must be clearly condemned by all.

There were a number of hotbeds of tension in Africa, he said, welcoming recent political progress in Mali, although the situation in the north of that country was still volatile.  The international community must work to ensure that settlements were found to conflicts in Libya, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, southern Sudan and Burundi.  Greater international efforts were needed in Iraq, Syria and Yemen to ensure those countries did not sink into further conflict.  He condemned the nuclear test carried out by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which was a threat to the world.  The proliferation of small arms and light weapons was one of the major risks to international peace and security.

Stressing that multilateralism was the best possible tool for dialogue and solidarity, he called for a complete lifting of the embargo against Cuba so that Havana and Washington, D.C., could enjoy a mutually beneficial partnership.  Reform of the United Nations was still a central issue that must be tackled with conviction and calmness, particularly with regard to fairer representation of Africa on the Security Council.  It was incumbent on all States to offer citizens hope for a better future so they could leave subsequent generations with a safer world.

NANA ADDO DANKWA AKUFO-ADDO, President of Ghana, said Africa had come of age to hold its rightful place on the world stage.  The continent was ready to work to put in place a stable democratic system with the aim of achieving sustainable economic progress.

For its part, Ghana was determined to transform itself into a prosperous nation.  It had worked hard to achieve political stability and strengthen its institutions.  The country had also grown its economy with the aim of providing better job opportunities for its citizens.  To ensure that Ghanaians had the requisite skills, the Government had introduced a programme to offer free secondary education.  “This has already led to an increase of over 90,000 children, who had entered this academic year, who otherwise would have dropped out,” he said.

He said such efforts to transform Ghana’s political, social and economic systems would allow the country to depend on itself for growth, rather than relying on handouts from other countries.  While Ghana did not disclaim aid, the country also did not “want to be a scar on anybody’s conscience”, he said.

Building a country which did not depend solely on aid for growth would allow Ghana to establish sustainable relationships with other countries.  On that issue, he stressed the importance of ensuring a nuclear-free Africa, noting that highly enriched uranium had been flown out of Ghana back to China three weeks ago.

Turning to Africa, he said cooperation with regional and continental groups such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union was vital for achieving peace and security on the continent.  Conflicts plaguing countries including Libya, South Sudan and Mali would be more effectively resolved if the international community supported the efforts of Africa’s regional and continental organizations.  On the topic of United Nations reform, he stressed the need to modernize the Security Council to ensure that Africa was represented.  “We cannot insist on peace and justice around the world, when our global organization is not seen by the majority of its members as having a structure that is just and fair,” he asserted.

ALI BONGO ONDIMBA, President of Gabon, said peace at the international and national levels was essential to ensuring development and the participation of all in democratic debate.  For its part, Gabon had convened a political dialogue in which leaders had candidly discussed national issues and needed reforms, notably for elections, voting systems and electoral procedures.  Importantly, “we have worked to implement the conclusions of this political dialogue”, he said, recalling that Gabon had recently formed a new Government with representatives from the opposition and civil society.

On the issue of sustainable development, he stressed that predictable and long-term financing was essential.  With that in mind, his Government had introduced policies that sought to diversify the national economy, and thereby reduce the country’s dependence on extractive industries and commodities.  Policies would also aim to accelerate industrialization and create jobs.

Noting that Gabon had felt the impact of the global economic slowdown, and in particular, experienced increased youth unemployment, he said that to address those challenges, the Government had introduced an economic recovery plan and budgetary adjustments to develop infrastructure and promote the private sector.  At the same time, efforts to integrate African economies should continue, as they would allow countries to better handle vacillations of the global economy.  Amid such challenges, Gabon was committed to ensuring that every citizen had equal opportunities and resources, and a better quality of life.  Measures had been introduced to reduce the prices of basic goods, build new university hospitals and ensure women’s empowerment.

Gabon was also committed to protecting the environment, given the urgency of climate change, he said, noting that the country had 20 marine protected areas and 30 national parks.  It also had introduced measures to protect its forests and prevent poaching.  Turning to peace and security in Africa, he said no efforts should be spared in the fight against terrorism.  Military responses alone were not enough; cooperation between States and solidarity with victims was needed, he said.  In a similar context, he stressed the importance of including Africa as a permanent member of the Security Council which would boost efforts to ensure peace on the continent.

ABDRABUH MANSOUR HADI MANSOUR, President of Yemen, said his country was ending its third year of war against the Houthi coalition, which had rebelled against the political processes carried out under United Nations auspices.  That coalition was evil and used violence and terrorism to rebel against the legitimate elected leadership.  It had used armed force against people and taken the entire country hostage.  Facing that evil, the Yemeni people had taken a stand and resisted the de facto policy of the rebels, but only after having exhausted all political, peaceful means.  The rebels were implementing an Iranian expansion agenda in the region, he said, which had resulted in a request for support from the Arab Coalition led by Saudi Arabia, which had heeded that request and stood by Yemen.

He said Yemen was on a quest for sustainable peace — a fair and strong peace that would lay the foundations for a real State that guaranteed peace and security for all its citizens.  The Government sought to prevent violence and ensure that the State alone held the monopoly on the use of force.  It would be a peace based on the consensual documents that the people had agreed upon, and that the international community had supported.  The problem in Yemen was not a matter of political differences that could be managed around the negotiating table alone.  There had not been a coup d’état, but rather, there was a difference in philosophies, ideologies and values.  Yemenis were grappling with religious sects that were extremists and believed they possessed superiority and a right to rule.

He said the rebellion organized by the Houthis went beyond any traditional military coup d’état, which sought to preserve the State and its institutions.  Militias were destroying the State’s institutions, including the army and security forces, which had been replaced by militias serving only one faction.  All resources had been depleted, the private sector had disappeared and school curricula had been replaced with extremist studies.  The militias received full support from Iran, a State determined to destabilize the region.  Sustainable peace would only be possible if Iran stopped interfering in Yemen’s affairs, creating tensions and “faking” conflicts, while stoking feelings of hatred and violence.  Efforts must be made to control Iran’s expansionist aspirations, he said, emphasizing that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard had supplied the militias with long-range missiles.

The rebels had refused all calls for peace, he said, had tried to assassinate the international envoy and continued to compromise peace and security, including by threatening international maritime pathways.  He emphasized his desire to stop the war and achieve peace.  “We are not warmongers,” he said, declaring:  “We desire peace.”  He affirmed his continuous quest for peace, based on the consensual agreements that had been reached, as well as those agreements endorsed by the international community, including resolution 2216 (2015).  Yemen was still in need of support due to the high level of poverty and food insecurity.

He called on the international community to apply pressure on the rebels to implement the relevant Security Council resolutions and to agree to compromise.  His Government was ready to provide all necessary support to ensure that humanitarian assistance reached all parts of Yemen.  “We want to preserve the life of all Yemenis, including those who fire bullets in our direction and target the Yemeni people,” he said.  The Government continued to face the challenges imposed by the war, including the destruction of all aspects of life.  The Government needed support in its efforts to consolidate peace and security, control the economic situation and counter terrorism.

DANNY FAURE, President of Seychelles, said the Assembly’s theme of “Focusing on People” could not be achieved without effective implementation of the principles of democracy and a concerted demonstration of will.  Such efforts also called for good governance, transparency and accountability, which were the foundations for prosperity and security.  Space must be created within societies where diverging views and ideas could flourish and be respected, he said, adding that, by doing so, unity, tolerance and respect would all be promoted.

He said that, for the first time in its history, Seychelles was experiencing a system of political cohabitation, whereby he served as President and head of the Government’s executive branch, and worked with a legislature dominated by the opposition.  That dynamic, characterized by dialogue and consultation, worked well.  Most importantly, the relationship was based on mutual respect.  The Government was being reshaped to be more inclusive, with an emphasis on the empowerment of citizens, especially youth.  The environment for free media was being improved and legislation related to institutions, authorities and agencies was being amended.  With greater transparency, good governance and accountability, the independence of institutions and authorities would continue to increase.

He said the goals of peace and a decent life for all on a sustainable planet would not be met solely by increasing financial, human or other resources for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda or the Paris Agreement.  Those processes should be democratically governed, underpinned by transparency and accountability, with respect for the natural environment.  In Seychelles, the private sector, civil society, non-governmental organizations and parliamentarians had joined with the public sector in a national effort to integrate the global development agenda into the national budget and development plans.  Further efforts were under way to integrate the 2030 Agenda with the African Union Agenda 2063 and the Samoa Pathway for small island developing States.

A similar inclusive approach was required for implementation of the Paris Agreement, he said, stressing that all stakeholders must be involved if the international community was to drastically scale up its climate action.  The world could not afford to renege on the collective commitment to “travel the moral path” for the sake of humanity.  From small islands came big ideas, he said, citing the agreement Seychelles had reached with the Paris Club of creditor countries on a first-of-its-kind $21 million debt-for-adaptation swap to protect 30 per cent of its exclusive economic zone.  The country also aimed to launch the world’s first “blue bonds” by the end of the year to raise another $15 million for sustainable fishing practices.  Both those measures sought to establish innovative sources of financing to implement Goal 14 on oceans and seas.

MOKGWEETSI E.K. MASISI, Vice-President of Botswana, said the United Nations was the only universal organization with the moral authority to seek solutions to the world’s challenges.  Recognizing the importance of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement, he said Botswana had held several multi-stakeholder consultations in the formulation of both its national development plan for 2017‑2023, and “Vision 2036” plan for 2017‑2036, from a belief that national priorities must reflect people’s needs.  Those frameworks sought to accelerate development by addressing education, health care, housing, poverty, income inequality, gender inequality and unemployment.

Citing gains, he said the number of people living in abject poverty or below $1.25 per day had fallen from 24.5 per cent in 2002 and 2003 to 6.4 per cent in 2009 and 2010.  Over two decades, Botswana had invested 25 per cent of its annual budget in education and skills development, and implemented an economic stimulus programme, achievements it had shared this year during its high-level political forum voluntary national review.  On climate change, he urged all countries, including the United States, to protect the integrity of the Paris Agreement, and welcomed the convening of the first-ever Ocean Conference, reiterating that, although landlocked, Botswana had interest in the ocean environment and marine resources.

On the humanitarian front, he said Botswana had responded to numerous humanitarian calamities, including the famine in Somalia.  Citing reports of conflict, human rights violations, extra-judicial killings, sexual violence, arbitrary arrest and detentions, he said the situation in South Sudan was a grave concern.  He appealed to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to ensure implementation of the 2015 Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan.  The political, security and humanitarian situation in Syria was catastrophic, and he expressed disappointment in the Security Council’s failure to take decisive action, suggesting that the General Assembly use its moral power amid such paralysis.  He supported referral of the situation to the International Criminal Court to ensure those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity be held accountable.

He expressed concern that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had contravened international law and United Nations resolutions, and called for swift enforcement of the United Nations Charter.  “Regime change must be brought about in order to remove once and for all this everlasting threat to peace in that region,” he declared.  Further, it was “reprehensible” that Western Sahara remained the only Non-Self-Governing Territory in Africa and it was time for an independent, impartial plebiscite to be held under United Nations supervision.  He similarly supported Palestinians in their struggle for sovereignty and independent statehood, announcing that Botswana established diplomatic relations with Palestine on 8 March.  Strongly condemning terrorism, violent extremism and racial intolerance, he reaffirmed Botswana’s commitment to international instruments banning weapons of mass destruction.  Botswana valued the opportunity to contribute to the promotion and protection of human rights through its membership to the Human Rights Council over two consecutive terms.

ANDREJ PLENKOVIĆ, Prime Minister of Croatia, said open and transparent institutions were essential to achieving peace and justice.  That would require an active and informed citizenry, which held Governments accountable.  “Such citizen involvement brings a welcome mix of representative and participatory democracy.  By bringing forward substantiated arguments and avoiding superficial and misleading populism,” he added.

Maintaining peace and stability was something which Croatia had worked hard to achieve, he said.  In just 20 years, it had built State institutions and re‑established territorial integrity.  He added that as a beneficiary of a United Nations peacekeeping mission, Croatia was ready to share with other countries its unique know-how in conflict resolution.  However, the focus should still be on conflict prevention rather than acting after tensions had erupted.  It was essential that the Organization developed tailor-made solutions, which came from feedback received from the ground.

He welcomed the Secretary-General’s commitment to reform the United Nations to make it more efficient and transparent.  Ensuring that the permanent and non‑permanent membership of the Security Council was more regionally balanced was also crucial, particularly that of Eastern European countries’ representation.

On the issue of refugees and mass migration, he stressed taking a holistic approach to addressing root causes while stemming the illegal flows of people.  Those efforts, however, should be underscored by the need to protect humanity, dignity and safety.  Croatia too had grappled with acute refugee and migration crises in the past.  “The approach we always took, and always will, will be one that puts people first,” he added.

He also highlighted that disputes among countries should be resolved through peaceful means and conformity to international law.  It was important that all international adjudicators met the highest legal standards.  He said the impartiality of international adjudicators and tribunals was compromised in the arbitration process between Slovenia and Croatia.  “That made the decision legally void and left Croatia with no choice but to withdraw from the arbitration process,” he said.

JUSTIN TRUDEAU, Prime Minister of Canada, recalled that, throughout his country’s history, it had worked hard to achieve its ambitions at home and elsewhere in the world.  Canada was built on the ancestral land of indigenous peoples, he recalled, and was regrettably a country that came into being without the meaningful participation of those who were first there.  The indigenous peoples were the victims of a Government that did not respect them, their traditions, their attributes, their way of governance, or their laws.  They were victims of a Government that sought to rewrite their unique history and refused to protect the lands and water.  It was a great shame that that lack of respect persisted today.

Yet, for the first time in history, there was an opportunity to deliver meaningful and lasting reconciliation between Canada and First Nations, the Métis Nation and Inuit peoples.  In that context, the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples provided the necessary norms and standards for reconciliation.  That was not an aspiration, but rather a way forward, he said.  Canada was moving ahead with a thorough review of federal laws, policies and operational practices to ensure that it was meeting its obligations, including those under the Declaration.  The world expected Canada to adhere to international human rights standards, and in that connection, it was working hard to correct past injustices and bring about a better quality of life for indigenous peoples.

Investments included helping to bring safe and clean drinking water to all indigenous communities, which was in line with Sustainable Development Goal 6.  New agreements had been put in place to address gaps in education in indigenous communities, in line with Goal 4.  Other efforts included working with indigenous communities to build and refurbish homes, with construction work on nearly 4,000 homes already completed or under way, helping to fulfil Goal 11.  There was also a stronger focus on combating gender-based violence and giving women and girls equal opportunities, in line with Goal 5.  The Sustainable Development Goals were as meaningful in Canada as they were everywhere else in the world.

Everyone must do everything possible to ensure that all people had the best opportunities.  Equality was for everyone, regardless of gender, origin, religion or who one chose to love.  There must be greater efforts undertaken to protect the environment, which was an obligation shared by all.  In Canada, that meant new relationships between the Government and indigenous peoples based on the recognition of their rights, respect, cooperation and partnership.  Canada was dismantling its old colonial bureaucratic structures and had created a new Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs.  In that context, it was recognized that the federal Government had a historic responsibility for providing services to indigenous peoples, although over time, those programmes and services would increasingly be delivered by indigenous peoples as part of their move towards true self-governance.

Canada was in uncharted territory, he noted.  “No one has paved the way for us, but we cannot wait.  The time has come for us to pave the way together,” he underscored, adding that it was time to move away from old, outdated colonial structures.  Part of that new partnership would involve addressing the shared challenge of climate change, which was a phenomenon that particularly affected indigenous and northern communities.  “There is no country on this planet that can walk away from the reality of climate change,” he stressed, highlighting that for its part, Canada would continue to fight for the Paris Agreement.

TUILAEPA SAILELE MALIELEGAOI, Prime Minister of Samoa, said small island Pacific countries stood to lose the most in the unfolding “power drama” being played out on the Korean Peninsula, which was why he signed yesterday the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  “No matter the noble goal for having such arsenals, availing them to the wrong and unprincipled hands is a recipe for doom and mayhem,” he explained.  But, not all was lost.  The New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants offered a unified approach to addressing the plight of displaced peoples, and the creation of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Office was another positive development.

Climate change was a perpetual priority for Samoa and the region, he said, as small islands’ limited resources and lack of adaptive capacity made rehabilitation a mammoth undertaking.  Samoa was committed to respecting human rights and the rule of law, he said, noting that, in August, the first-ever Human Rights Council expert group had visited his country to assess progress in eliminating discrimination against women and promoting women’s rights.  Samoa had “great faith” in the protection offered by the rule of law, particularly to small countries that lacked armed forces, calling the International Criminal Court an important part of the architecture for world peace and expressing support for the early activation of the Kampala amendments.

He said Samoa had aligned its domestic policies and legislation to meet its international obligations to fight terrorism, and on the peacekeeping front, its support for the United Nations was underscored by 17 years of uninterrupted policy deployment to Liberia, Sudan, Timor-Leste, South Sudan and Darfur.  He condemned sexual exploitation and abuse in peacekeeping, stressing that Samoa had signed the international compact to eliminate those heinous acts.  He went on to say that the Pacific regional road map for the Sustainable Development Goals complimented Samoa’s own integrated approach for implementing the 2030 Agenda, the Samoa Pathway and the Paris Agreement.

Noting that several partnerships and voluntary commitments specific to small island developing States had been launched at the 2016 Ocean Conference, he stressed the need to address gaps and emerging issues before the midterm review.  To drive the regional policy agenda, Samoa had reaffirmed the Framework for Pacific Regionalism and endorsed the “Blue Pacific” identity.  Regional priorities included illegal, unregulated, unreported fishing and overfishing; support for capacity-building; and collective arrangements to help regional Governments recover from national conflicts and crises.

On the security front, he acknowledged the successful conclusion of the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands that had brought together peacekeepers from the Pacific Islands Forum member countries.  Leaders had agreed to expand the concept of security, inclusive of human security, humanitarian assistance, environmental security, resilience to disasters and climate change.  The Pacific would continue to call for nuclear non-proliferation, as radioactive contaminants in the Marshall Islands remained significant concerns.  To that end, he requested urgent assistance from United Nations and the United States.

MIROSLAV CERAR, Prime Minister of Slovenia, commended the Secretary-General’s actions to bolster multilateralism and the reform agenda, recalling the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement.  Citing gains, he said Slovenia ranked high on the Sustainable Development Goals Index and in the Dashboards Report 2017, and was among the top 10 of 157 measured countries in achieving the Goals.  Slovenia’s commitment to the environment had also been demonstrated by its proposal to designate 20 May as World Bee Day.  More broadly, he advocated shared responsibility and solidary in addressing global migration and refugee flows, noting that Slovenia had held consultations on the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration and the global compact on refugees.

Reiterating that States bore the primary responsibility for fulfilling human rights, he said that, as a member of the Human Rights Council, Slovenia would continue to advocate a progressive approach and the protection of norms and standards.  Attention must be given to children’s rights, gender equality, women’s empowerment and the rights of older persons.  More must also be done to mitigate harm to civilians, and he underlined the need for a zero-tolerance policy on all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse.

Slovenia placed the rule of law and international law at the centre of its foreign policy, he said, with a goal of ending impunity for the most serious international crimes and promoting international criminal justice, including through the International Criminal Court.  He expressed strong support for the relationship between the United Nations and the Court regarding jurisdiction over the crime of aggression anticipated by end of 2017, and swift activation of the Kampala amendments on the crime of aggression.  He expressed concern over situations in Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, Libya, Mali, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and he called upon all relevant parties to refrain from the use of force and invest in political dialogue.

Welcoming the reform of the United Nations counter-terrorism architecture, he said Slovenia was committed to treaty-based nuclear disarmament and arms control with full implementation of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.  He strongly condemned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s violations of Council resolutions and international commitments.  “Conflicts cannot be prevented or resolved by addressing consequences alone,” he said.  “We must address the underlying causes.”  To sustain peace, he advocated thinking long-term and opting for diplomacy, mediation and conflict prevention.  Slovenia would support reforms that improved the United Nations’ coordination, avoided duplication and achieved results.

SIGMAR GABRIEL, Vice-Chancellor of Germany, said world leaders must question how to bring about change that would lead to more peace and stability, less hunger and better prospects for everyone.  While humanity faced the same structural difficulties as it had some 40 years ago, it seemed more difficult to change the world for the better.  A world view that placed one’s own national interests first, and was no longer engaged in balancing interests among countries, was gaining ground.  That view described the world as a battle ground where everyone fought everyone else, asserting their own interests, either alone or in alliances of convenience.  “I am convinced that we have to rise against this worldview,” he said, stressing the need for more international cooperation and less national egoism.  The motto “our country first” not only led to more confrontations and less prosperity, but in the end, there would only be losers, he warned.

After two world wars, he said Germany had learned to see its former enemies as neighbours and partners with whom it sought peaceful coexistence.  In international cooperation, no one lost sovereignty.  Turning former enemies into friends had been a difficult path for Germany, as the call for cooperation was not always popular in one’s own country.  Yet, that effort had created peace in Europe after generations of war.  Germans were grateful for the countries in Europe that had shown the courage to make his country — once an enemy — a new and lasting friend.

The actions of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea illustrated the urgent need for the international community to signal its rejection of that country’s provocations.  The way in which that crisis was handled was of grave importance, as it would influence how other countries viewed the attractiveness of building nuclear arsenals.  The situation involving the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was neither a bilateral, nor a regional problem, but rather, a global challenge to be collectively addressed.  It was more important than ever that the international arms control architecture not be questioned or allowed to crumble.  That included the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which, if allowed to fail, would create repercussions far beyond the region.  Were it to be scrapped, confidence in such agreements would surely decline.

He drew attention to the escalating violence against the Rohingya, urging the international community to act as quickly as possible in terms of political engagement and humanitarian support to address that crisis.  Germany was committed to providing support to many crises, and in recent years, had tripled its contributions to civilian peacekeeping.  Progress had been made in Iraq, where success against the so-called Islamic State must now be consolidated by helping the victims return to their home countries and strengthening a democratic and inclusive State.  The international community had to make progress in the Ukraine conflict, he said, calling on the Secretary-General to determine the viability of establishing a peacekeeping mission there.

He went on to underscore the need for strong international institutions, particularly the United Nations, stressing that, while its principles were not outdated, it must adapt to current realties.  The Secretary-General had set the right priorities in his reform agenda, he said, cautioning that such efforts should not focus primarily on cutbacks.  As greater resources were needed, Germany would maintain its financial support and was ready to shoulder additional responsibility.

SERGEY V. LAVROV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, recalled a 2016 resolution stating that it was unacceptable to interfere in States’ internal affairs and rejecting the extraterritorial use of national laws.  Yet, some States, which were in the minority, were trying to dominate, guided by the logic of unipolarity.  Expressing support for parts of the speech delivered by the President of the United States this week — in which he had underscored the importance of respecting sovereignty — he said he agreed that countries with different cultures could not only coexist, but work together.  The Russian Federation had always abided by the principles of sovereignty, mutual respect and the equality of peoples, he said, noting that some Western States — including those in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) — were trying restore the climate of the cold war.  That group had expanded its presence in the East, provoked instability in the post-Soviet area and created anti-Russian sentiment, he said, describing those actions as the roots of the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Even under those conditions, he said the Russian Federation sought to implement the Minsk Agreements and work constructively.  Among other things, it had drafted a resolution calling for a United Nations mission to protect observers to the Minsk Agreements.  Warning nations not to allow the freedom of expression to be used as a pretext for glorifying fascists or permitting neo‑Nazi activities, he called for the establishment of a barrier against terrorists and extremists.  In addition, “civilized Europe” was allowing monuments to past heroes to be removed and languages to be suppressed.

Today, the arsenal of many Western States was not but “rough pressure”, he said.  The United States was imposing new restrictions against Iran which were extraterritorial in nature and threatened the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.  Condemning the recent nuclear activities of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he nevertheless cautioned against “military hysteria”, which could lead to disaster.  There was no alternative to a diplomatic solution, he said, calling on States to support the road map proposed by the Russian Federation and China.  It was also unacceptable to interfere in the domestic affairs of Venezuela, as attempts to use ultimatums outside of the United Nations Charter had never led to good.  Indeed, many of today’s challenges had resulted from attempts to remove regimes, and had ultimately opened space for terrorism.

In that regard, he underscored the need to fight not only ISIL/Da’esh but also Al-Nusra, which, for some reason, was being spared by the international community.  Recalling the outcome of the recent Astana summit on de-escalation zones in Syria, he called on all parties to commit to dialogue with a view to eliminating the terrorist hotbed and restoring Syria’s unity and territorial integrity.  All uses of chemical weapons must be investigated honestly and impartially without the manipulation of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), he said, adding that the Russian Federation had maintained its balanced approach to all conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere.

In that vein, he emphasized the need to restore Palestinian unity, pledging that the Russian Federation would continue to cooperate with the parties including through the Middle East Quartet.  More broadly, he warned that it was an illusion to try to create “separate islands of security”.  The main responsibility for security, including in the fight against terrorism, was borne by States, as provided for in the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.  The Russian Federation was committed to working towards the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons under the existing Non-Proliferation Treaty regime, but that process must take into account the realities of the world and allow for national security.  Cyberspace must not become another forum for conflict between States or spreading terrorist ideology, he said, noting that his country had prepared a draft of a convention for counteracting cybercrimes, including hacking.  Calling on all nations to adapt to global changes through a collaborative approach, he said they must also ensure that the world order was both just and democratic, and took into account the interest of all States without exception.

WANG YI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of China, said the United Nations had been instrumental in preserving seven decades of relative peace and helping countries enter onto the fast track of development.  Today, the emergence of developing countries and an exciting technology evolution offered new opportunities, but also tensions and power imbalances.  The world faced a backlash against globalization.  “We are once again at a crossroads,” he said, and countries must choose between unity and division.  To ensure peace, development, and dignity for all, they must embrace the United Nations as a “guardian of world peace”.

Further, the permanent Security Council members should play an exemplary role in mutual respect and win-win cooperation, he said, choosing “dialogue over confrontation”, and “partnership over alliance”.  The fight against terrorism required a holistic approach whereby all countries abided by law and avoided double standards.  The United Nations should spearhead efforts to build a united front against terrorism in an objective and impartial manner, acting as the main channel for preventing conflicts by fully leveraging Chapter VI of United Nations Charter and engaging as a political mediator.  In that context, the Geneva and Astana channels should be used as a “greater push” for substantive talks between the Syria’s Government and its opposition, he said.

On the Palestinian issue, he said “we owe the Palestinians a just solution”, and called for an immediate end to violence.  All efforts should be made based on the two-State solution and “we must think out of the box to mediate peace”.  He recalled that 19 September had marked the twelfth anniversary of the Six‑Party Talks Joint Statement, in which the parties, including China, had formulated a road map towards denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.  While some felt that statement was now outdated, such peaceful trends never became obsolete.  There should be no new nuclear weapons States, he stressed, urging the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea not to advance its dangerous direction, and calling on the United States to honour its regional commitments.  There was still hope for peace and “we must not give up,” he said.  The parties must meet each other halfway.  China had made tireless efforts for peace on the Korean Peninsula and would stay firmly committed to its denuclearization.

He underscored the need to help States implement the 2030 Agenda in line with their own needs and priorities, pressing the United Nations to continue its follow-up of the Paris Agreement, and parties to respect the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.  He encouraged States to seek complementarity between the 2030 Agenda and their own development strategies.  North-South cooperation should be used as a main channel for development while leveraging South-South and tripartite cooperation.

On the refugee crisis, which stemmed from regional instability and uneven development, he said the United Nations must respond by easing the humanitarian plight and addressing its causes.  It should also promote trade and investment, build an open world economy and pursue innovation, ensuring that all countries enjoyed the same rights and shared development achievements.  It must promote the uniform application of international law and help rebalance globalization to the benefit of all nations.

China’s progress would bring more benefits as an “anchor of world peace,” he said, adding that it had never — and would never — pursue colonization or aggression.  China would “always vote for peace” in the Security Council.  A champion of multilateralism, as well as of the principles of sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, it would always uphold its obligations.

LUIS VIDEGARAY CASO, Minister for Foreign Relations of Mexico, expressing his country’s appreciation for the outpouring of support following the tragic earthquake, said the United Nations had come together as a family.  Mexicans of all backgrounds were assisting those most affected, with rescue missions remaining the priority.  Tragedies of this nature demonstrated that only through multilateralism could we achieve development goals, he said.  Current challenges to multilateralism had resulted in a wave of terror and repudiation of globalization.  Mexico rejected those negative outlooks and vowed to be a sovereign State “profoundly devoted” to multilateral approaches to global issues.

Migration was at the core of global issues, he said, vowing his country’s full support for the Global Compact on Migration and expressing “profound solidarity” with Mexican migrant workers in the United States, regardless of their legal status.  Mexico had an obligation to protect migrants and appreciated their contribution to the global economy.  In the region, efforts continued to foster greater interconnectedness through the North American Free Trade Agreement.  Mexico also sought to work more closely with Central American and Caribbean nations to improve security mechanisms and disaster preparedness.  Closer ties to Europe and Asia were also vital to addressing global issues, he said.

Mexico recognized its duty to increase efforts to promote human rights and equality, he said.  Too often, women were the victims of abuse and discrimination, and those responsible for such suffering must be brought to justice.  He expressed solidarity with the people of Venezuela and their fight for democracy, also expressing support for the normalization of relations with Cuba.  To achieve those goals, Mexico would work alongside the Secretary‑General to ensure the United Nations was a more efficient Organization.

SALVADOR SÁNCHEZ CERÉN, President of El Salvador, said the 2030 Agenda had done a great job at boosting dialogue among nations.  At the national level, El Salvador had adopted a development programme which aimed to reduce extreme poverty and provide quality education to all.  There had already been a reduction in chronic child malnutrition, he pointed out, emphasizing the need to include the issue of food security in all sustainable development initiatives.

A climate favourable to foreign investments was imperative, he continued, stressing that major fiscal challenges lay ahead for his country.  Sustainable development also required an environment of peace and security, he added, highlighting how El Salvador, through forging partnerships with different actors, had already seen a drop in homicides and extortion.  In the same vein, without a strategy of financing, implementing the 2030 Agenda would be “very complicated”.

As a middle-income country, El Salvador believed it would be productive to eliminate economic and growth measurement solely based on gross domestic product (GDP), he continued.  A multidimensional measure scale was essential.  In addition, responsibilities must be fairly shared between debtors and creditors.

Outlining how El Salvador was focusing on inclusion in society, he said that migration was an opportunity to guarantee human development and do away with xenophobia and stigmatization.  Migrants participated positively in both transit and destination countries, he stressed, underscoring the immense contributions immigrants made to the societies that received them.

He also said that as a country which had suffered from more than a decade of armed conflict, El Salvador understood first hand the power of resolving disputes through dialogue and communication.  He called for an end to the economic blockade on Cuba by the United States, adding that it was time to better relations between the two countries.  He also expressed concern that weapons of mass destruction were posing a real threat to humanity.  Concluding, he said that climate change was increasingly compromising economic development and the well-being of countries, including in his region.

AZALI ASSOUMANI, President of Comoros, extended his condolences to the countries recently affected by natural hazards, urging those catastrophic events be a call to action to mitigating climate change.  Comoros was back on a path to stability, he said, reiterating his country’s commitment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and global peace and stability.  He stressed that development and climate change were closely linked.  Recognizing the gravity of the many crises around the world, he voiced his State’s commitment to working towards collective prosperity.  Migration, diplomacy, conflict prevention and United Nations reform posed great challenges for all continents, especially Africa, he said.

Migration was a grave concern for his country, as migratory patterns had great effects on origin and host countries, he continued.  However, the people from Comoros making the perilous journey to Mayotte were not migrants, and he called for a fair and balanced solution to the dispute and expressed hope that one would be reached by 2018.

Referring to terrorism as the “absolute repudiation of humankind”, he called for the fight against that scourge to be conducted with “all our strength”.  There was no intrinsic link between Islam and terrorism.  Terrorist “barbarians” belonged to no faith.  Islam advocated love and tolerance and promoted respect for human dignity, he noted.

He condemned “atrocious” attacks against minority groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Myanmar.  He hoped the United Nations would uphold the most basic rights of the oppressed, and called upon the international community to act and punish perpetrators before losing its credibility.  He called for an end to hostilities in the Middle East and repudiated the use of chemical weapons.  He expressed support for the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people and voiced his support for a two-State solution to the Israel-Palestine dispute.

He said that collective action was needed to promote the Sustainable Development Goals and to achieve a decent existence for all.  Improving health and education should be a priority, and technology presented great potential to build a better future.  His country was diligently working to achieve Goal 7, with a focus on renewable energy to bring reliable electricity to all.  To that end, he called for greater solidarity from the industrial sector.

TOMMY REMENGESAU, President of Palau, expressing his sympathies to everyone affected by the recent record-breaking hurricanes, warned that there were many more such storms or “ticking time bombs” to come that could wipe out years of progress in the span of a few hours.  Cooperation among nations must be expanded based on fairness, and the only body that could do that was the United Nations.  Turning to sustainable development, he said that oceans were the lifeline to humanity, and yet, other issues of security and peace often took over the international conversation.  ISIL and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea continued to threaten peace and security.

Those issues must be dealt with by strong multinational institutions and a strengthened United Nations, he stressed, emphasizing that a decent life for all and a sustainable planet must be the focus of global work.  He expressed support for all efforts and United Nations resolutions to bring Pyongyang to the negotiating table, expressing concern over threats made at Guam.  Pacific small island developing States faced unique security and development challenges, he continued, urging the Secretary‑General to recall the main guiding principle of the 2030 Agenda.  “Leave no country behind,” he stressed.

It was critical to ban nuclear weapons, he continued, calling on leaders to unite to ban their use, test and storage, as Palau’s leaders had done long ago.  On climate change, he said it was essential to achieve the full implementation of the Paris Agreement.  Although small, Palau was proud to commit itself to help protect the oceans, he said, emphasizing its commitment to protecting biodiversity and working towards designating 30 per cent of national waters as marine protected sites by 2030.

Palau was also addressing marine pollution in all forms, he said, adding that such commitments required a broad alliance of partnerships.  He welcomed the continued support of the United States to Palau in its movement towards economic independence.  In such difficult times, Palau supported United States efforts to combat terrorism and reduce the nuclear threat emanating from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  It also had a great “friendship” with Japan and expressed support for that country’s permanent membership on the Security Council.

Ultimately, success would depend on the development of genuine and durable partnerships at every level, he stressed.  Challenges and threats were becoming bigger and more complex.  “At no time in the history of the world was the unity of people more important,” he emphasized, adding that the United Nations had the potential to resolve global issues “only and if only” its members were committed.

TEODORO OBIANG NGUEMA MBASOGO, President of Equatorial Guinea, declared that no Member State should consider itself exempt from the obligations of the United Nations Charter.  Military intervention and other violations of sovereignty were at the heart of socioeconomic instability around the world, he said, and his country was concerned about powerful Member States that believed such conflict could resolve disputes.  “War must never be used to ensure peace and security,” he said, and those principles could only be achieved when every country enjoyed internal peace.

Speaking of his country’s bid for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council, he vowed to use that organ as a platform on which to work for peace in every country.  To that end, there was a need for a more inclusive and representative Council, and he linked that lack of inclusion to the absence of real progress in tackling hunger and climate issues, pointing to increasing food insecurity.

Focusing on creating more inclusive international organizations would be the key to meeting the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063, he said.  The international community should work in a manner conducive to assisting those most in need, not punishing them.

Equatorial Guinea had taken great strides towards achieving its development goals, he continued.  However, recent global economic crises had forced a revaluation of its strategy.  Outside threats of terrorism and piracy were still present, he said, while denouncing countries that ignored sovereignty to “confuse” international public opinion and diminish his country’s progress.  He said some countries used humanitarian intervention as a means to violate sovereignty.

Expressing a rejection of the use of force, he condemned the manufacture, ownership and dissemination of nuclear weapons and called for the destruction of all such armaments.  International terrorism, human trafficking, migration and transnational crime affected the entire world, and in tackling those issues, no one country should police all others.  He called for a participative spirit, with equality for men and women and among all nations.

EVARISTO DO ESPIRITO SANTO CARVALHO, President of Sao Tome and Principe, said it was urgent to carry out essential reforms at the United Nations.  Calling for greater inclusion in decision-making and strategic planning, he said international financial institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank must closely follow such guidelines.  The primary focus of any national, regional or international policy must be to improve the lives of all people.

Conflicts that troubled the world must be strongly condemned, he stressed, adding that current divisions and tensions were the results of a lack of dialogue among involved parties.  It was unacceptable that extremism and populist rhetoric continued to curtail so many lives.  He called for dialogue on the Korean Peninsula, a cessation of hostilities in Syria and the need to accelerate dialogue in the Middle East.  The international community must take action to find solutions for Ukraine, Western Sahara and Guinea Bissau.

He expressed concern for the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic.  Condemning the barbarity of terrorism that continued to claim so many human lives, he said the atrocities committed by Boko Haram in neighbouring Nigeria had slowed down efforts made towards achieving sustainable development.  People must be able to live decent lives, and the international community had a civic responsibility to welcome refugees and the displaced and provide them with humanitarian assistance.

On sustainable development, he highlighted efforts of the African Union and the 2063 Agenda, whose implementation, he said, was tailored to the cultural specificities of each country.  The initiative also called on Governments to clearly commit to its success.  Combating climate change was perhaps the most complex objective for which all humanity was called upon to intervene, he added, urging the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

As a small developing island State, Sao Tome and Principe’s economy remained highly vulnerable, he said.  As such, it was necessary to think and design alternative ways of addressing its complexity.  His Government had re-established diplomatic ties with China, which would strengthen its development partnership.  He also called for the normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States.

ROBERT GABRIEL MUGABE, President of Zimbabwe, said the global development agenda demanded a radical, unprecedented paradigm shift in every sphere of human life.  He stated that we could not halt or reverse the destruction of our natural habitat or the rise in atmospheric temperatures without a change in contemporary production and consumption patterns.  Furthermore, the world could not halt or reverse the widening gap between rich and poor without deeper international cooperation and reform of the international system.

In Africa, the system perpetuated a “historic injustice” that could never be justified, and for that reason he reiterated his country’s support for the African common position on Security Council reform, also known as the Ezulwini Consensus.  The negotiations and process intended to yield reforms were “painstakingly slow,” he continued, and the international community was left to wonder whether those who “enjoy” and “abuse” the power and privileges of the current system were sincere interlocutors in the reform discussions.  “By some strange logic, we expect to reap peace when we invest and expend so much, in treasure and technology, in war,” he said.

The international community must tackle the root causes of conflict: enduring poverty and deprivation, unequal access to resources, the denial of rights to self-determination of peoples and interference in internal affairs of other States.  Noting that the peoples of Western Sahara and Palestine lived under “immoral” colonial and foreign occupation, he called upon the Security Council to demonstrate its authority by enforcing resolutions, and holding the independence referendum in Western Sahara “without delay” in partnership with the African Union.

Noting that Zimbabwe embraced the 2030 Agenda as an integrated and comprehensive approach to address national and global challenges, he recalled that his country participated in the voluntary national review at the recent high-level political forum on sustainable development.  He recognized the need for partnerships within and outside national borders, and with the United Nations.

Zimbabwe remained an advocate for the respect of sovereignty and defended the rights of each country to take decisions in exercise of their sovereign rights, however, he expressed embarrassment by the “return of a Goliath”, the United States, which threatened the “extinction” of other countries.  “I say to the United States President, Mr.  Trump, please blow your trumpet in a musical way towards the values of unity, peace, cooperation, togetherness and dialogue which we have always stood for, and which are well writ in our very sacred, documented Charter of the United Nations.”  He reiterated that the international community would like to be guided by the United States, not by the promise of “damnation” or the “monster” of imperialism.  On climate change, he said that the decision by the United States to abandon the Paris Agreement placed other countries at risk.  It was vital that all countries, in keeping with the provisions of the Framework Convention on Climate Change, “halt the inexorable march towards the destruction of that upon which our own existence depends,” he stated.

MUHAMMAD JUSUF KALLA, Vice-President of Indonesia, said peace was never a given, but must be developed and nurtured.  “We must work towards creating a global ecosystem of peace and stability,” he said, emphasizing that such an effort would require dialogue, inclusiveness, the peaceful settlement of disputes and the non-use of force.  Emphasizing Indonesia’s contribution to United Nations peacekeeping, and its membership in the Peacebuilding Commission, he said his country would always be ready to be part of a global solution to conflicts.  Sustainable peace required a global culture of prevention, he said, underscoring the importance of a strong partnership between the United Nations, regional organizations and national Governments.

Palestine was at the heart of Indonesia’s foreign policy, he said, calling for a fresh, sustainable and innovative approach that would bring about a two-State solution.  A decent life for all people must be a global goal, with synergies between sustaining peace and the development agenda.  Global commitments including the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement must be translated into concrete action, with adequate funding, technical assistance, capacity-building and technology transfers for least developed and developing countries.  It was also important to support regions such as Africa, which had huge potential and which had undertaken great reforms towards sustainable development.

Synergy between sustaining peace and the development agenda also required a society that was just, inclusive and respectful of human rights, he continued.  There should be no man-made humanitarian crises.  Indonesia shared the international community’s concern about developments in Rakhine State, he said, adding that his country had proposed a “4+1” formula to the Government of Myanmar, placing the needs and welfare of the people at the centre.  He called for immediate access to humanitarian assistance and implementation of the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Rakhine State.

Despite what the sceptics believed, climate change was real, he said.  With more than 17,000 islands, Indonesia was feeling the impact of changing weather patterns and rising sea levels.  Climate change would affect Indonesia’s sustainable development and even its survival.  He said his country was fully committed to the Paris Agreement and called on all countries to implement their obligations under that instrument.  Turning to terrorism, he said the key to tackling it was through addressing its root causes, including extreme poverty, illiteracy and massive youth unemployment.  Indonesia used a combination of hard and soft powers to address terrorism, radicalism and violent extremism, including a comprehensive programme to de-radicalize and reintegrate those who had “gone to the dark side”.  In an age of social media, terrorism was like a fast-spreading cancer that could only be eradicated through global cooperation and a comprehensive approach, he said.

AL HUSSEIN BIN ABDULLAH II, Crown Prince of Jordan, said his nation had been hit in recent years by a number of external shocks, including being surrounded by multiple conflicts, namely in Gaza, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen, as well as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  That impacted trade with Iraq, Syria, Turkey and many countries in Europe.  The region’s instability also weakened tourism and investments in a country already suffering from the global financial and energy crises.

Despite such difficulties, Jordan continued to host 1.3 million Syrian refugees, with 90 per cent of that population living within local communities, as well as millions of Palestinians, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and refugees from Libya and Yemen, he said.  His country remained one of the largest hosts of refugees in the world and more than a quarter of its budget was spent on the Syrian crisis.  “We did not turn our back on people on need.  We are weighted by massive debt, but we stand tall and proud,” he said.

The country’s supported resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was based on the two-State solution, he continued, stressing the country’s duty as Hashemite custodian of Muslim and Christian Holy sites in Jerusalem:  “Preserving the historical and legal status quo at Al-Aqsa Mosque/Haram al-Sharif is key to peace in our region and the world.”  Furthermore, it remained committed to fighting terrorism, and protecting civilians from Haiti to Darfur to Timor-Leste.

While his country was praised for its humanitarian stance, it still needed aid, as it remained affected by external shocks while being a contributor to global peace and security, he said.  He also noted that the world had spent $1.7 trillion on arms, but fell short by $1.7 billion to answer the United Nations appeal to support Syrian refugees.  War economies continued to thrive, while real economies suffered.  “The United Nations is our global conscience, but for too many in my country and others around the world trying to do good, it sometimes feels like the world’s conscience is on ‘silent mode’,” he said, reiterating Jordan’s commitment to peace, moderation and international cooperation.

ENELE SOSENE SOPOAGA, Prime Minister of Tuvalu, expressed concern with the threat posed to global peace and security by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, saying that a military response would lead to unimaginable destruction and loss of life.  Diplomacy was the only option to solve the crisis, he said, noting that Tuvalu on 20 September signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as part of its commitment to the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty.

The Paris Agreement was Tuvalu’s hope for security and survival, but the decision by the United States to abandon that instrument risked undermining global efforts to save and protect tens of millions of people at risk from climate change, he said.  Short-term domestic economic and political interests that benefited the few should not be pursued at the expense of a decent life for all.  He welcomed the Secretary‑General’s intention to convene a climate summit in 2019 and called for climate change to be a permanent agenda item for the Security Council.

Under current warming trends, Tuvalu might be submerged into the sea within the next 50 years, he said.  Its people — who had contributed the least to global warming — would be forced to abandon their islands.  Such displacement had yet to generate international concern, despite its potential for threatening global peace, security and human rights.  Moreover, current refugee regimes did not adequately protect those forced to leave their homes by the impact of climate change.  He proposed a United Nations resolution to establish a legal process to protect the human rights and lives of those displaced by climate change.

As a least developed country and a small island developing State, Tuvalu needed enhanced global support to implement the 2030 Agenda, he said, noting its development of a national strategy for sustainable development.  Graduation from least developed country status must only come when the State concerned could achieve sustainable development, not when it should be able to do so.  Ongoing discussions on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction must ensure financial and technical support for small island developing States.  He went on to say that “Taiwan” should be allowed its fundamental right to participate in the United Nations system.  The United Nations must also be involved in addressing the issue of self-determination for the people of West Papua, he said.

GIORGI KVIRIKASHVILI, Prime Minister of Georgia, expressed condolences and sympathy to the victims of hurricanes in the Caribbean and the United States and earthquakes in Mexico, saying no country, including his, was immune from natural hazards.  Recalling that 2017 marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of Georgia’s membership in the United Nations, he said his country had, during that period, gone from being a recipient of United Nations humanitarian assistance to becoming a top reformer and Chair of the Open Government Partnership.  It supported the Secretary‑General’s proposed reforms for the Organization, he said.

He reviewed Georgia’s progress and commitment to democracy over the years, with its place in international rankings rising in such areas as fighting corruption, protection of property rights, an independent judiciary and law enforcement.  “We are not making cosmetic changes,” he said, drawing attention to progressive initiatives contained in a new draft Constitution.  Georgia aspired to become a full member of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), as it had long been an integral part of Europe’s broad cultural and historical tapestry.

Member States knew fully well the Russian Federation still occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali/South Ossetia in violation of its many international obligations, including dozens of Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, he said.  In 2017, the Russian Federation had intensified its policy of occupation and factual annexation.  It had implemented so-called “integration treaties” and signed so-called “agreements” with de facto authorities, absorbing the two regions into its military, political, economic and social systems.  The Russian Federation had also intensified the fortification of occupation lines, installing razor wire fences, trenches and motion detectors, he added.

Georgia was committed to resolving the Russian Federation-Georgia conflict peacefully, with its Government complying with a European Union-mediated ceasefire agreement, he said.  The Russian Federation, however, was not reciprocating.  Georgia was grateful for United Nations support, including annual General Assembly resolutions on the right of return for internally displaced persons and refugees.  However, he said, hundreds of thousands of compatriots still waited to return home because a Member State refused to comply with its international obligations.  Georgia was determined to make the benefits of its European agenda available to people on the other side of the occupation line through a package of initiatives, including trade opportunities, health care, education and other social benefits, he said.

GASTON ALPHONSO BROWNE, Prime Minister and Minister for Finance and Corporate Governance of Antigua and Barbuda, recalled how on 6 September, his two‑island State was victim to the ferocity of Hurricane Irma.  “The island of Barbuda was decimated; its entire population left homeless,” he said.  Describing the sheer difference in size, he noted that Barbuda was 62 square miles while Hurricane Irma was 375 miles wide.  “Barbuda did not stand the faintest chance,” he said.  “For the first time in over 300 years, there is now no permanent resident on Barbuda.”  The residents were moved to Antigua, whose population increased by 3 per cent overnight.

The residents of Barbuda were now anxious to return to their homeland but the island remained unfit for human habitation, he said.  There was no electricity, no potable water, and 95 per cent of the buildings had been damaged or destroyed.  The preliminary estimates had placed the cost of rebuilding Barbuda at about $250 million, he said, adding: “It is simply a stretch beyond our reach.”  Antigua and Barbuda urgently required assistance from the international community, he continued, adding:  “We have not stretched the palm of our hand because we crave, we plead because we need.”  He thanked the first responders, particularly from Venezuela, who “went above the call of duty”, as well as all donors.

The present international financial architecture was leaving small States such as Antigua and Barbuda behind, he said.  Two Category 5 hurricanes in 12 days hit the Caribbean.  That could no longer be dismissed as “vagaries of the weather”.  Climate change was man-made, and must be attributed to nations that consumed 80 per cent or more of the world’s energy and emitted dangerous levels of pollution.  All 14 Caribbean nations together produced less than 0.1 per cent of global emissions.  “The unfairness, injustice and inequality are painfully obvious,” he said, urging the international community to provide financing at concessionary rates without artificial impediments.

Like many small island States, his developing country was categorized as “high-income” thus denying it access to grant funding, he said, adding that the per capital income criterion was skewed.  He asked:  “Where is the justice in large wealthy countries borrowing on their capital markets at 3 per cent, while so-called ‘high-income’ small island States are forced to borrow commercially at 12 per cent?”  It was irrational to graduate a small island State that could not pay its debts to high-income status.

He stressed the need to make trade more fair, recalling how Antigua and Barbuda won a trade dispute with the United States at the World Trade Organization (WTO).  Yet the United States had failed to settle, and the loss of trade revenue to his country had risen to $200 million.  Honouring its obligation to Antigua and Barbuda was not a one-sided deal, of which the United States got nothing in return.  The United States had been the greater beneficiary of trade with Antigua and Barbuda for decades while his country continued to suffer over 13 years of trade losses.

SHAHID KHAQAN ABBASI, Prime Minister of Pakistan, expressed concern that the principles of the United Nations Charter were being eroded.  In recent years, some countries had displayed a growing proclivity to resort to unilateral force and intervention against others.  “Coercion and threats have emerged again as the main currency in the management of inter-State disputes and differences,” he said.  Drawing attention to renewed East-West tensions, war and violence in the Middle East and the continued tragedy of Palestine, he said the legitimate struggle for self-determination of the people of Jammu and Kashmir continued to be suppressed by India’s occupation forces, while the ethnic cleansing of Rohingyas in Myanmar was not just an affront to all norms of humanity, but also challenged the world’s collective conscience.

“From day one,” he said, Pakistan had faced hostility from its eastern neighbour, India.  That country refused to abide by Security Council resolutions and had deployed some 700,000 troops to occupied Kashmir — “the most intense foreign military occupation in recent history”.  It had used massive and indiscriminate force against Kashmiris who protested that oppressive rule.  To divert attention from those brutalities, India frequently violated the ceasefire along the line of control in Kashmir.  “The international community must act decisively to prevent the situation from a dangerous escalation,” he stressed, calling on the Secretary‑General to appoint a special envoy on Kashmir.

Apart from the Afghan people, he said, Pakistanis had suffered the most from four decades of foreign intervention and civil wars in Afghanistan.  Those wars had blighted Pakistan with a flow of extremists and terrorists, guns and drugs as well as an influx of refugees.  Peace would not be restored to Afghanistan by continuing to resort to military force.  Having suffered so much from terrorism, it was especially galling to be blamed for the military or political stalemate in Afghanistan, and to be used as a scapegoat.  “Taliban ‘safe havens’ are located not in Pakistan but in the large tracts of territory controlled by the Taliban in Afghanistan,” he stressed.

Emphasizing that his country was not prepared to fight the Afghan war on Pakistan’s soil, he said it also could not endorse any failed strategy that would prolong and intensify the suffering of the people of either country.  The most urgent and realistic goals in Afghanistan were to employ concerted action to eliminate the presence of Da’esh and their affiliates, including the TTP (Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan) and Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, and to promote negotiations between Kabul and the Afghan Taliban.  Noting Pakistan’s counter-terrorism credentials, he said it had been his country’s efforts that enabled the decimation of Al-Qaida in the wake of the 11 September attack on New York.  Pakistan’s military campaigns had succeeded in clearing its tribal areas of almost all militant groups.

“We took the war to the terrorists,” he continued, adding that “we have paid a heavy price.”  Thousands had been injured or killed, and the country’s economic losses were estimated at over $120 billion.  Nevertheless, it remained committed to fully implementing its national action plan against terrorism and extremism.  “Terrorism is now a global phenomenon, which must be addressed comprehensively,” he said, noting that the international community had failed to address the issue of State-sponsored terrorism.  Eradicating terrorism required addressing its root causes, which were not only poverty and ignorance.  Terrorism was an extreme response to real or perceived political or other grievances — including foreign intervention — as well as oppression and injustice.  Confronted by a hostile and increasingly militarized neighbour, Pakistan had been forced to maintain “credible deterrence” capabilities, he said, adding that the country had only developed nuclear weapons when the same had been introduced to the region by that neighbour.  Noting that its arsenal was tightly and effectively controlled, he said the world community would be well-served by enabling Pakistan to joint global non-proliferation arrangements, such as the Nuclear Suppliers Group, on a non-discriminatory basis.

PRAVIND KUMAR JUGNAUTH, Prime Minister of Mauritius, expressed the need for reform of the Security Council so that it reflected the enlarged membership of the Organization.  In particular, Africa should assume a more pronounced role, instead of being left on the side of global governance, he said, also supporting India’s aspiration for a seat on the Council as well as the small island developing States ambition for a non-permanent seat.

Recalling that Mauritius voted in favour of the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he called for a complete denuclearization of the world and urged those involved in potential conflicts to engage in dialogue instead of belligerent posturing.  He also called for restraint in Myanmar and appealed for the provision of humanitarian assistance to those affected by violence and the implementation of the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on the Rakhine State.  Furthermore, he supported the two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Condemning terrorism, he welcomed the establishment of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism.

He said that his country valued the importance of its integration within Africa and that the continent had the potential of becoming a beacon for sustainable development.  Agenda 2063, along with the 2030 Agenda, provided a strategy for development that was people-driven and respected the rule of law, he added.  In that regard, a mechanism had been established in Mauritius for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and his country would present its voluntary national review in 2018.

Addressing climate change must be given special attention, he continued.  Mitigating its effects as well as implementing the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 would require great resources, especially for small island developing States.  Classification as a middle-income country made States such as Mauritius ineligible for most official development assistance (ODA) and concessional funding, he noted.  Furthermore, as oceans remained a priority to small island developing States, Mauritius had developed an ocean strategy comprising of fisheries, tourism, deep water applications, resource exploration and exploitation.  In that context, he called on the country’s partners to assist Mauritius in implementing that strategy.

Turning to the issue of the Chagos Archipelago, he said Mauritius was hopeful that the International Court of Justice would allow his country to move forward, including with an appropriate programme in favour of the displaced inhabitants.  He added that he had no intention of seeking the disruption of the security arrangements currently in place in Diego Garcia and reaffirmed the country’s willingness to enter into a renewable lease with the United States to allow such arrangements to be kept in place.  Completing decolonization would provide legality and certainty.  With regards to Tromelin Island, he said that his nation appreciated the progress made with France.

SHEIKH HASINA, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, said it was with a heavy heart that she was making her fourteenth address before the General Assembly, having just witnessed the hunger and distress of Rohingya from Myanmar who had taken shelter in the Bangladeshi city of Cox’s Bazar.  Those people were fleeing ethnic cleansing in a country where they had lived for centuries.  Bangladesh was sheltering more than 800,000 forcibly displaced Rohingya, she said, adding that ongoing atrocities and human rights violations in Rakhine State had aggravated the situation along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border.  It was horrifying to see the Myanmar authorities lay landmines along that border to prevent Rohingya from returning.  Those people must be able to return in safety, security and dignity, she said.

She thanked members of the Security Council and the Secretary-General for their proactive attempts to stop atrocities and bring peace and stability to Rakhine State and called on the United Nations and the international community to take immediate and effective measures for a permanent solution to the Rohingya crisis.  She proposed that Myanmar unconditionally, immediately and forever stop violence and ethnic cleansing in Rakhine State; that the Secretary-General immediately send a fact-finding mission to Myanmar; and that all civilians, irrespective of religion and ethnicity, be protected in Myanmar, including through the creation of United Nations-supervised safe zones.  She also proposed the sustainable return of all forcibly displaced Rohingya in Bangladesh to their homes in Myanmar, and the immediate, unconditional and full implementation of the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State.

During its 1971 war of liberation against Pakistan, Bangladesh endured an extreme form of genocide, with 3 million people killed and more than 200,000 women violated, she said.  Now it was bringing the key perpetrators to justice, she stated, urging the international community to take collective action to prevent the recurrence of such heinous crimes.  She called for the resumption of the Middle East peace process and an end to all hostilities and discrimination against Palestinians.  Looking forward to the Secretary-General’s proposals for financing sustaining peace, she said Bangladesh would contribute $100,000 to the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund.

As a major troop- and police-contributing country, Bangladesh considered it important to uphold the effectiveness and credibility of United Nations peacekeeping missions, she said.  Bangladesh would maintain its own capability readiness, enhance the scope of its peacekeeping training and deploy more female peacekeepers.  Emphasizing the country’s zero tolerance approach to allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse, she announced a $100,000 contribution to the Trust Fund in Support of Victims of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse.  Condemning terrorism, she urged the United Nations to address cyberthreats.  On climate change, she called the Paris Agreement a bastion of hope for climate justice, adding that Bangladesh had achieved exemplary success in building resilience against floods and other disasters.

CHARLOT SALWAI TABIMASMAS, Prime Minister of Vanuatu, expressed his country’s concern about the vast flows of refugees and migrants, noting that in 2016 the number of displaced people around the world stood at 65 million.  An exodus to cities and a high rate of urbanization was a challenge as well.  There was a clear link between forced migration and the responsibility to protect.  As a small island developing State facing rising sea levels, Vanuatu appealed to the international community to consider a legal framework to address the issue of climate change refugees.

For Vanuatu, the United Nations represented the best hope and catalyst for peace and security, as well as for lifting millions out of poverty, he said.  To remain relevant, however, strategic reforms were needed.  Being a permanent member of the Security Council was a responsibility and it was incumbent on the organ to move beyond the political interests of its members and to find compromise solutions.  Vanuatu supported Council reforms which reflected current geopolitical trends with fairer regional representation, he said.

Vanuatu’s graduation from least developed country status did not eliminate its vulnerability to natural hazards, nor must it upset or hinder its development, he said.  The transition mechanism for graduating countries must be strengthened.  Conveying his Government’s concern about threats to peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region, he urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to halt its missile and nuclear development programme, reaffirmed Vanuatu’s commitment to the denuclearization of the Pacific and welcomed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Hurricanes and tropical cyclones around the world were warnings from Mother Nature that climate change was happening faster than efforts to respond to it, he said.  Deeper thought and greater efforts were needed.  Reducing greenhouse gas emissions would make a difference, he said, urging the United States to review its decision on the Paris Agreement and to implement it.  He emphasized his country’s commitment to reverse the decline of the health of the world’s oceans, including through a ban on plastic bags by 2018.  Looking ahead to the 2018 referendum in New Caledonia, he urged the administration there to honour the will of its people.  The Human Rights Council should meanwhile address the situation in West Papua, he said, calling for decolonization to be put back on the United Nations radar.

UMARO SISSOCO EMBALÓ, Prime Minister of Guinea-Bissau, said his Government was committed to working with the United Nations and other international partners to achieve peace and stability in the country.  While his country faced significant political and institutional challenges, it had made strides in areas such as protecting public safety and ensuring that State, civil society and financial institutions functioned.  Nonetheless, he remained confident that those challenges could be met with the support of the United Nations, ECOWAS, the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries and the African Union.

Addressing the issue of security, he said that terrorist activities in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria had threatened the stability of the West African subregion.  Countries in the subregion had to count on the United Nations and its international partners for help.  “Only if we worked together will we be able to transform our subregion into a bastion of peace and internal security and, by extension, a bastion in the service of international security,” he said.

Turning to sustainable development, he said that that item remained a challenge for his State.  Guinea-Bissau had made a grave economic mistake in the past by importing large volumes of rice, and had become dependent on those imports.  On the social front, diseases such as AIDS, malaria and other infectious diseases remained pressing issues.  He acknowledged that his country would not be able to overcome those challenges alone and required the support of the United Nations.

On environmental sustainability, he said his State had improved awareness on environmental issues, especially among the young.  Of the country’s territory, 12 per cent was made up of ecologically protected areas.  “We have a long road ahead of us.  Much effort had to be made in order to ensure environmental sustainability as we economically exploit our natural resources,” he added.

Concluding, he said that Guinea-Bissau had worked to achieve gender equality; however, it was far from achieving its goal of protecting the rights of women.  “I hope that all the political, economic and social actors in my country will continue to converge on legitimate advocacy for women’s rights and in general for the promotion of human rights in Guinea-Bissau.”

SELOM KOMI KLASSOU, Prime Minister of Togo, said that human security had to be at the centre of the United Nations work.  His country was preparing to launch a new national development programme that identified clear priorities towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and, in that regard, a new office had been created to closely monitor progress.  The well-being of all its citizens was driving Togo’s general policies, with a focus on the most vulnerable sectors of society.  No effort had been spared to guarantee inclusive growth and targeted areas of intervention had been identified.  The current challenges faced by his continent required the economic transformation of the region, he said, calling for the assistance of African elites and international solidarity.

With a focus on the country’s youth, Togo was prepared to revamp its education system, he said.  Plans were in place to make all schooling free and provide free meals and health care to students.  Access to water and energy and promoting entrepreneurship, job creation and the empowerment of women were among other priorities.  A national health-care plan was being developed, he said, referencing the need for effective mechanisms to mitigate disasters.  The toll of recent natural hazards in West Africa brought back memories of the recent Ebola crisis.  To face those collective challenges, he called on the international community to take on climate change and “preserve the planet at all cost”.  All countries also needed to work towards eradicating diseases as that took a heavy toll on Africa.

Harmonious development called for peace and rule of law, he said, noting that Togo was in the process of adopting term limits for members of Parliament and the President.  Indeed, reform had to come from the people.  Turning to human rights, he said Togo was “unwavering” in its defence of fundamental freedoms.  Migration and its security implications called for solutions to current conflicts.  The situations in Syria, Libya and Iraq were not limited to their borders and destabilized the region.  He expressed hope that African nations would work together to resolve disputes faced by other continents.

“Borderless threats” called for cooperation, he said, adding that terrorism and piracy were a grave concern for Togo.  Pirates were controlling maritime territories and terror attacks were occurring across the world, he noted.  The G-5 Sahel was making commendable progress in tackling the threat of terror in the region and the African Union had implemented a legally binding mechanism to protect oceans and seas.  Ending extremism called for providing convincing alternatives to radicalization.  He said it was undeniable that without peace and security development goals would not be met and called for dialogue to ease tensions in Asia following nuclear tests.

Progress called for revitalization of the United Nations, he said, commending the Secretary-General’s push for reform of peacekeeping operations.  Reforms would make the Organization more efficient, and he called upon Member States to make a concerted effort to conclude that process.  Togo pledged to use its position in international organizations like ECOWAS to ensure inclusive representation for all.

VLADIMIR MAKEI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belarus, said that the past few decades had been fraught with two contradictory tendencies — enhanced political fragmentation and increased economic globalization.  In that context, it was essential that key global players, including China, the Russian Federation, the United States and the European Union, engaged in dialogue about a strategic vision for building new constructive relations.  For its part, Belarus stood ready to serve as a convening place.  “Minsk stands prepared to become a bridge that would link the old with the yet unborn,” he said.

Increased globalization had contributed to economic development worldwide, he continued.  But it had not been without some downsides.  It was still critical to eliminate poverty and steer the global economy towards a “win-win” approach.  Instead, the current global economy operated in the interests of corporate capital, not ordinary people.  There were grounds for optimism, however, based on regional integration and creative new ideas in the global economy.  Regional integration remained essential, particularly in a contemporary world, he continued, outlining myriad ways Belarus contributed to regional processes.

The United Nations had been tasked with keeping major Powers from waging wars, he said.  In current times, the Organization must also serve as a uniting force for the global community.  Its transformation going forward would determine its role and place in the world for many years to come.  Reforms must be transparent, logical and result-oriented.  Concluding, he said that The United Nations must be utilized as a practical tool in the search for ways to resolve the contradictions and disputes among nations.

KAIRAT ABDRAKHMANOV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, referring to his country as a “net contributor” to peace and stability, urged all Member States to consider the link between security and development.  Since attaining independence, Kazakhstan had seen consistent economic growth, leading to increased investment and improvements in competitiveness indicators.  Kazakhstan’s development goals included that it would become one of the 30 most competitive economies in the world by 2050, all while adhering to global transparency standards.  Progress would be supported by constitutional reform to redistribute power among the three branches of Government, strengthening checks and balances.  Recognizing his country’s conventional energy resources, he pledged that it would pursue a green economy.

Turning his attention to the United Nations, he expressed support for the Secretary-General’s revitalization plan and peacekeeping reform proposal.  Kazakhstan was ready to participate in the process and send more personnel to United Nations missions.  As Kazakhstan prepared to assume the presidency of the Security Council, plans were in place to foster open debate that accounted for the security-development nexus.  At the core of that nexus was the elimination of the risk posed by nuclear weapons.  Calling nuclear proliferation the “greatest risk to humanity”, he termed the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear programme “totally unacceptable”.  Terrorism continued to pose a serious threat, he said, advocating for a multilateral counter-terrorism mechanism that sought long-term comprehensive solutions.

The situation in the Middle East was of grave concern to Kazakhstan and its fellow Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) members, he continued.  Ending the suffering of people in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen was a clear priority.  To that end, Kazakhstan was hosting the Astana process for the peaceful settlement of the Syrian crisis.  Kazakhstan’s position on the Israel-Palestine situation remained clear, he said, calling for a two-State solution that recognized a “sovereign, independent, viable and united” Palestine.  He also expressed concern over the situation faced by the Rohingya community in Myanmar, calling for dialogue between the United Nations, OIC and Myanmar.

ALFONSO MARÍA DASTIS QUECEDO, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain, said the modern world was highly interdependent and stressed the need to address extreme poverty, hunger, desertification, global warming and protection of the environment, as well as the orderly management of migrant flows.  Touching on the Middle East, he said the conflicts in Syria and Yemen required political solutions and expressed his country’s support for a free, democratic and united Iraq.  Compliance with the agreement with Iran would contribute to nuclear non-proliferation and peace in the region, he said, while stressing support for a two State-solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

He welcomed the Secretary-General’s intention to relaunch talks between parties in Western Sahara and expressed support for a political solution in Libya.  Despite concern over the situation in Mali, the Central African Republic and South Sudan, he praised the work of the United Nations on the ground.  Turning to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi, he urged that those countries respect the Constitution.  Furthermore, he reiterated Spain’s support to Afghanistan in the fight against extremism and terrorism and urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea against political and economic isolation and for engagement on irreversible and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Speaking on other regions, his country praised the peace agreement in Colombia, called on Venezuela’s Government to carry out real dialogue with the opposition and supported the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala.  On the annexation of Crimea, he said that was a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, which was regrettable in the twenty-first century.  He voiced concerns over the conflict in eastern Ukraine, recommending compliance with the Minsk Agreements.  Finally, referring to Brexit and regarding the question of Gibraltar, he invited the United Kingdom to negotiate an agreement:  Spain made a proposal that “combines the unwavering claim of Spanish sovereignty over the colony with a statute that benefits the Rock’s inhabitants so that they may continue to enjoy the advantages of European Union membership”.

JEAN ASSELBORN, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of Luxembourg, said that the Security Council must become more transparent and expressed regret that in the last 12 months there had been abusive use of the veto.  The United Nations must have sufficient means to do its work, he added, underscoring the challenges facing the Organization’s budget.  The financing needs of the 2030 Agenda were “enormous”, he said, outlining various initiatives his country had undertaken to finance sustainable development.  Luxembourg was set to adopt a new sustainable development plan which would guide the work of its civil society, Government and business sector for years to come.

Luxembourg’s commitment to the Paris Agreement was complete, he underscored, expressing regret that a major actor had distanced itself from the initiative.  The movement of people was affected by myriad issues, including conflict and lack of economic opportunity.  Millions had been forced to flee to Europe because of “apocalyptic” situations in Syria and Libya.  On the Middle East, he noted that Security Council resolution 2334 (2016) had called on Israel to immediately cease all settlement activities on occupied territories, targeting a status quo that had become unacceptable.  The announcement of the holding of elections in Palestine was a source of optimism.  In the same vein, the trends on the ground were worrying, he said, urging the international community to mobilize for change.

On Syria, he said peace would be restored only from an overarching and inclusive political solution.  “Everything must be done” for the negotiations in Geneva to continue, he added.  He also expressed support to the unity and stability of Iraq, adding that any differences among its people must be resolved within the framework of its Constitution.  He condemned the aggressive actions of Pyongyang, underscoring the need for decisive action from the international community.  Diplomacy could lead to results.  He underscored the need to support African partners in the deployment of the Sahel G-5.  He also emphasized that the scope of the International Criminal Court must not be limited to Africa and called upon all States to participate in its financing.  He expressed support to international initiatives aimed at fighting ISIL, and said that ethnic cleansing had no place in the twenty-first century, neither in Myanmar nor elsewhere.  Luxembourg also supported women’s and girls’ access to health and reproductive rights.

Europe had not been spared from the pressures in the international order, he continued, spotlighting the growing tensions in eastern Ukraine.  Europe was not free of upheavals of globalization.  It was a victim of terrorism.  Political movements in Europe were being fed by anti-immigrant rhetoric, he continued, urging the continent to renounce insularity and adopt a multilateral system.

ULLA TØRNAES, Minister for Development Cooperation of Denmark, said that, more than ever, leadership and common purpose were needed to steer the United Nations in a new direction.  “Fundamental and ambitious reform is the only way forward,” she said, explaining that Denmark’s commitment to international cooperation through the United Nations was a reason why it was running for a seat on the Human Rights Council for the 2019-2021 term.  She called on all developed countries to join Denmark in providing 0.7 per cent of their gross national income to ODA.  She voiced support for the Secretary-General’s proposals to reform the United Nations development system.  In that regard, partnership with the private sector, civil society, academia and innovators — and ensuring equal opportunities for women — would be crucial, she said.

Turning to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear and missile tests, she said Denmark strongly condemned Pyongyang’s irresponsible behaviour.  The regime there must de-escalate the current situation and commit to a peaceful solution, in line with Security Council resolutions.  In Myanmar, violence in Rakhine State must stop, she said, welcoming the Government’s commitment to implement the Advisory Commission’s recommendations.  Denmark stood ready to help Myanmar and Bangladesh in pursuing integrated humanitarian and development solutions for affected areas.

She welcomed the Secretary-General’s vision for the Organization’s peace and security architecture, saying Member States had an obligation and a shared interest in supporting them so that the United Nations could fulfil its purpose and promise.  “The time for bold ambitions is now,” she said.  Failing to support reforms would mean continued international turmoil and unprecedented levels of displacement, she added.

Right of Reply

The representative of Ukraine, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said the Russian Federation had been recognized by the United Nations as an occupying Power.  As such, it had no legal or moral right to pronounce itself on Ukraine until it withdrew from Ukrainian territory.

The representative of India, also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, asked how Pakistan could play the role of victim when it defended terrorism.  India noted that Pakistan had become a territory synonymous with “pure terror”.  Saying Pakistan had harboured terrorists, even legitimizing some as politicians, India affirmed that Jammu and Kashmir were and would always remain an integral part of India.  Pakistan’s actions had earned it the name of “Terrorstan”, India asserted, saying Pakistan had “upstreamed” terrorists and provided safe haven to terrorist groups.  India said “failed State” Pakistan had diverted funds towards the military.  The priority for Pakistan, India said, had to be the abandonment of its destructive world view.

The representative of Afghanistan said the representative of Pakistan aimed to divert international attention from its longstanding failure to act against terrorist havens.  Terrorists in Pakistan were a major source of instability in Afghanistan.  Pakistan had every opportunity to combat terrorism and engage in peace and security.  He asked:  Where was the mastermind of terrorism, Osama Bin Laden, killed?  More than 20 internationally recognized terrorist groups had entered Afghanistan from Pakistan.

The representative of Pakistan, responded to the statements by the representatives of India, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.  It was unfortunate that India had decided to criticize his country’s statement since while it continued to kill the people of Jammu and Kashmir.  Noting that Indian mortar fire had killed 10 civilians only yesterday, he said that country’s desire for hegemony at the cost of others would never materialize.  He went on to say that Bangladesh was spreading lies at his country’s expense, and emphasized that the issues of 1971 had been agreed and settled.  “We have to move on,” he added.  He urged Afghanistan to stop blaming others for its problems, eliminate terrorist havens and deal with its “narco-State”.

For information media. Not an official record.