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GA/10621
25 September 2007

‘OUR CHANGING WORLD NEEDS A STRONGER UN,’ SAYS SECRETARY-GENERAL, AS SIXTY-SECOND GENERAL ASSEMBLY BEGINS GENERAL DEBATE

25 September 2007
General Assembly
GA/10621
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-second General Assembly

Plenary

4th & 5th Meetings (AM & PM)


‘OUR CHANGING WORLD NEEDS A STRONGER UN,’ SAYS SECRETARY-GENERAL,


AS SIXTY-SECOND GENERAL ASSEMBLY BEGINS GENERAL DEBATE

 


Assembly President Says Achieving Anti-Poverty Goals Moral Test;

27 Heads of State, Government Address Body on Session’s First Day


Warning that the coming year would be one of daunting challenges for the United Nations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today told world leaders “our changing world needs a strong UN” and pledged to make the world body “more flexible and mobile”, so that it could respond effectively to the growing number of concerns -- from combating global warming and fighting poverty to ending the tragedy in Darfur and reigniting the Middle East peace process.


“We need an internal climate change at the UN,” said Mr. Ban, opening the General Assembly’s annual high-level debate -– his first as Secretary-General -– with a reference to the historic summit he convened at Headquarters yesterday to build worldwide momentum for upcoming negotiations on an extension of the Kyoto Protocol on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, which expires in 2012.


“To deliver on the world’s high expectations for us […] we need to pay less attention to rhetoric and more attention to results -- to getting things done,” he said, laying out his vision of an efficient and accountable administration focused on results and pride in serving the global good.  Highlighting some early successes, he noted that, during the past year, the United Nations peacekeeping operations had been successfully reorganized, and said he planned to continue that effort by strengthening the Department of Political Affairs.


“We must become more proactive in responding to crises.  Well planned and executed preventive diplomacy can save many lives and forestall many tragedies -- a core Charter responsibility of our UN,” he said, acknowledging the need for a fresh approach to tackle what he foresaw as a daunting array of challenges “that no country, big or small, rich or poor, can resolve on its own.”


Addressing global hotspots, Mr. Ban pledged to “leave no stone unturned to end the tragedy in Darfur”, calling on the Sudanese Government to honour its pledge to join comprehensive peace talks and implement a ceasefire.  He also repeated his call on the authorities in Myanmar “to exercise utmost restraint, to engage without delay in dialogue with all the relevant parties to the national reconciliation process on the issues of concern to the people of Myanmar”.


Mr. Ban said peace in the Middle East was vital to the stability of the region and the world.  “We know what is required: an end to violence, an end to occupation, the creation of a Palestinian State at peace with itself and Israel, and a comprehensive regional peace between Israel and the Arab world,” he said.


Calling Iraq “the whole world’s problem”, he stressed the important role of the United Nations in promoting political negotiations and national reconciliation in that country.  On Afghanistan, he said: “We must work more effectively with our partners to deal with drug trafficking and the financing of terrorism.”


Evaluating progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, he painted a mixed picture and called for efforts to help those most in need, particularly in Africa, home to most of what one World Bank economist called “the bottom billion” of the world’s poor.  “Our Millennium Goals remain achievable -– so long as we help the poorest nations break free of the traps that ensnare them.”


United States President George W. Bush said that his country was working with the United Nations to alleviate immediate human needs, and he appreciated yesterday’s discussions on climate change.  At the same time, the goals just set out by Mr. Ban could not be achieved without reform.  For instance, the United Nations had long been silent on the repressive regimes -- from Havana and Caracas to Pyongyang and Tehran -- while focusing its criticism excessively on Israel.  To be credible, the United Nations must reform its Human Rights Council.


Challenging world leaders to defend human rights and denounce tyranny, Mr. Bush said that every civilized nation also had a responsibility to stand up for the people suffering under dictatorship.  “Americans are outraged by the situation in Burma, where a military junta has imposed a 19-year reign of fear,” he said, outlining a tightening of financial sanctions on Myanmar and an expanded visa ban on “those responsible for the most egregious human rights violations”.  He urged the United Nations to use economic leverage to help people regain their freedom.


Turning to Cuba, he said the long rule of “a cruel dictator” was nearing its end, and the Cuban people were ready for their freedom.  In Cuba’s transition, the United Nations must insist on free speech and, ultimately, competitive elections.  Meanwhile, moderate leaders in the Palestinian Territory were working to build free institutions that fought terror, he said, calling on the international community to support them.  Citizens in Lebanon, Afghanistan and Iraq had also chosen democracy, and every civilized nation had a duty to stand with them.  He saluted other nations that had recently “taken strides toward liberty”, including Ukraine, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Mauritania, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Morocco.


France’s President, Nicolas Sarkozy, said that the message he brought from his country was a simple one: in this world, where the fate of each person depended on others, the United Nations must be strengthened, not weakened.  France considered it a priority to usher in reform of the Organization and see it adapt to modern realities.  Today’s challenges were so pressing, “we cannot afford to wait any longer”, he said, adding that: “What the world needs now is a new state of mind, we need a genuine […] ecological and economic new deal.”


Moreover, there would never be peace in the world, unless the international community stood firm in its support of people struggling for freedom, he continued.  He said the international community must renew its determination to fight against terrorism, stand firm in its resolve to put an end to wars in the Middle East, support the people of Lebanon and end the horror of Darfur, as well as the humanitarian crisis in Somalia.  There would also be no peace in the world if the international community faltered in the face of nuclear arms proliferation.


Saying that he was “weighing his words carefully”, Mr. Sarkozy turned to the Iranian nuclear question.  Iran was entitled to nuclear power for civilian purposes.  “But, if we allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, we would incur an unacceptable risk to stability in the region and the world,” he said.  Tehran’s acquisition of such weapons would also put at risk the very existence of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).


“I want to say here, in the name of France, that we can only resolve this crisis with a combination of firmness and dialogue.”  While that was the spirit in which France would address the matter, at the same time, France believed that it was the international community’s duty to confront those who sought power and constantly threatened that fragile balance of peace “with unflinching unity and determination to uphold the law”.  That was not just a moral duty.  It was a political duty and, unless it was upheld, “the age-old demons of violence and hatred will once more gain the upper hand”.


Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that the only sustainable way to better mankind was through a return to the teaching of the divine prophets, monotheism and the flow of love in all relationships.  To fulfil that objective, he invited everyone to form a “front of fraternity, amity and sustainable peace” to prevent arrogance.  He announced that Iran would head down that path.  Such values should dominate the pillars of the United Nations, and the General Assembly should be considered the most important pillar of the Organization.


Turning to the nuclear issue, he said Iran was a clear example of how such a mechanism performed and the thoughts behind them.   Iran was a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and all its nuclear activities had been completely peaceful and transparent.  As a member, it had rights and obligations, particularly to stay on a peaceful path.  Members were entitled to Agency support and access to the fuel cycle.  Thus far, Iran had fulfilled all its obligations, yet had been deprived of other members’ technical assistance, as some powers had politicized the atmosphere.


After three years of negotiations, Iran concluded that the main concern of those powers was to prevent its scientific progress.  His country, therefore, decided to pursue the issue through the legal path that ran through IAEA.  In the last two years, the Security Council had been influenced by “bullying powers” and had failed to protect the rights of the Iranian people.  IAEA had recently tried to regain its legal role in supporting its members, which was a correct approach.  “I officially announce the nuclear issue of Iran is now closed,” he declared.


He advised those who had demonstrated hostility to Iran for the past five years to reform themselves and, thus, the world.  Nations were inherently good and could co-exist peacefully.  Faith in God meant believing in honesty, and that was the invitation of all divine prophets, from Adam and Moses to Jesus Christ and Mohammed.  Quoting from the Koran, he emphasized his hope that such an invitation would have a practical answer.  Peoples and Governments were not obliged to obey the injustice of certain powers, and he declared that the age of relations arising from the Second World War was over.


Turing the Assembly’s attention to development issues, Thabo Mbeki, President of South Africa, recalled that declarations committing countries to defeating all dehumanizing conditions had been adopted successively at the Rio Earth Summit, Copenhagen Social Development Summit and the Monterrey Conference on Financing for Development, among others.  So, the poor could be forgiven for thinking that global leadership at times sounded like “an empty vessel”.  The United Nations, which should pride itself with visible results in the fight against climate change, would find it difficult to demonstrate decisive progress, partly because it had not transformed its governance institutions.


Because the world’s nations were defined by the dominant and the dominated, the dominant had become the decision-makers in global forums and, accordingly, the skewed distribution of power had replicated itself in multilateral institutions to the disadvantage of the poor.  He said that the poor would continue to strive for improvement of their wretched conditions and, therefore, saw the United Nations as the natural instrument to accelerate progress.  Yet, it would be difficult for the United Nations, in its present form, to fully implement its own decisions and, therefore, help them achieve the Millennium Development Goals.


Mr. Mbeki said that South Africa firmly believed that it would achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  Having emerged from more than three centuries of colonialism, South Africa had inherited two interlinked economies, the first and second economies, one developed and another informal.  His country sought to use the first economy as a base to transfer resources and modernize the second.  In a similar context, central to attaining the Millennium Goals was the critical matter of resource transfers from the North to the South.  There was an urgent need for massive resource transfers to developing countries through development assistance and trade, among other methods, he added.


Assembly President Srgjan Kerim of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia agreed that sharp social divisions continued to persist, with half the world’s people living on less than $2 per day.  The burden of expectation for a better future was growing daily, and education -– the key to empowerment -– was still lacking for 100 million young children.  “Let us not spare any effort to move the world towards a sense of genuine belonging, shared opportunity and responsibility,” he stressed.


Achieving the Millennium Development Goals was not solely a test of the Organization’s ability to deliver on promises, it was, above all, a test of moral convictions, which was why, in consultation with the Secretary-General, he intended to work closely with countries to hold a Millennium Development Goals leaders’ meeting during the sixty-second session.


He said that by confronting the challenges of our times -- climate change, financing for development, the Millennium Development Goals and countering terrorism among them -- countries could forge a “new culture” of international relations.  He urged States to act with purpose and vision.  If fully implemented, the commitments made at the Assembly’s 2005 World Summit and other international conferences could create the conditions for lasting prosperity.  He encouraged States to “achieve more” during the current session by ensuring that it was more of a dialogue, rather than monologue; more focused on results; and strove to exemplify a spirit of cooperation and mutual respect.


Also speaking today were the Presidents of Brazil, Ghana, Kazakhstan, Honduras, Nicaragua, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Malawi, Chile, Sri Lanka, Paraguay, Senegal, Argentina, Indonesia, Panama, Afghanistan, Slovakia, Estonia and Angola.  The Emir of Qatar also addressed the Assembly, as did the Prince of Monaco.


The Prime Ministers of Portugal (on behalf of the European Union) and Italy also spoke, as did the Chancellor of Germany.


Background


The sixty-second General Assembly met this morning to begin its annual general debate.


Address by Secretary-General


United Nations Secretary-General BAN KI-MOON said that he believed 2007 would be one of most intense years in the organization’s history.  The Assembly session had gotten off to a good start last week, with high-level meetings on development in Africa, and on the situations, respectively, in Darfur, Afghanistan and Iraq.  The United Nations had also hosted a meeting of the diplomatic Quartet on the Middle East peace process over the weekend.  Yesterday, world leaders had gathered for a high-level event on climate change.  That had been an enormous undertaking, but it had been a successful meeting and he hoped it was a model of how the international community would work together in the future.


Looking ahead to the coming year, and beyond, he foresaw a daunting array of challenges to come.  “They are problems that respect no borders -– that no country, big or small, rich or poor, can solve on its own,” he said, adding that, more than ever, it was an era of collective action.  Often, it seemed as though everybody wanted the United Nations to do everything.  “We cannot do everything, of course.  But that cannot be an excuse for doing nothing.”


He said that the theme of his address was therefore “A Stronger United Nations for a Better World”.  “Our changing world needs a stronger UN,” he said.  Everyone understood the importance of a strong, robust Secretariat.  “My vision is an administration focused on results –- efficient, directed, pragmatic and accountable, an administration representing excellence, integrity and pride in serving the global good.”  To deliver that vision, the Organization must modernize itself.  “We need an internal climate change here at the UN,” he said, adding that the Organization needed fresh thinking and that its main themes needed to be: to simplify, rationalize and delegate.


He said that he placed a very high priority on implementing the management reforms that the Assembly had approved during the early part of the year, towards promoting greater transparency, accountability and efficiency.  He welcomed the progress that had been made “to put our house in order” and was especially grateful that 102 Governments had made their annual budget assessments in full.  There had also been the successful reorganization of peacekeeping operations.  He planned to continue the effort to strengthen the Department of Political Affairs.   “We must become more proactive in responding to crises.  Well planned and executed preventive diplomacy can save many lives and forestall many tragedies –- a core Charter responsibility of our UN,” he added.


“I will leave no stone unturned to end the tragedy in Darfur.  The Government of Sudan must live up to its pledge to join comprehensive peace talks and implement a ceasefire,” he declared, stressing that the United Nations must also move forward with the agreement that ended the long-running war between the north and south and prepare for elections in 2009.  The crisis in Darfur had grown from many causes, and any enduring solution must address all of them -- security, politics, resources, water, humanitarian and development issues.  “There, as elsewhere, we must deal with the root causes of conflict, however complex and entangled.”


He went on to say that peace in the Middle East was vital to the stability of that region and the world.  “We know what is required: an end to violence, and an end to occupation, the creation of a Palestinian State at peace with itself and Israel, and a comprehensive peace between Israel and the Arab world,” he said.  With renewed leadership from the Arab world and the United States, coupled with the efforts of Quartet Representative Tony Blair, the elements for a renewed push for peace were being brought together.  “We also sincerely hope that the Lebanese people, through national reconciliation, will be able to restore political and social stability by electing their new president in accordance with their constitutional process,” he added.


“Iraq has become the whole world’s problem,” he continued, stressing that, with new Security Council resolution 1770 (2007), the United Nations had an important role in promoting political negotiation and national reconciliation, as well as in providing humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people.  “But we recognize that the safety and security of UN staff is paramount,” he added.


Turning to other global concerns, he said that, in Afghanistan, the international community must work more effectively with its partners to deal with drug trafficking and the financing of terrorism.  He was also closely following events in Myanmar and again urged the authorities in that country to exercise restraint, to engage without delay in dialogue with all relevant parties to the national reconciliation process on the issue of concern to the people of Myanmar.  He added that his Special Adviser would head to the country soon.


He went on to call on the Organization to reinvigorate its efforts to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and related technology, and especially to prevent such material from falling into the hands of terrorists.  He said that he was encouraged by recent progress on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea issue, and sincerely hoped that the forthcoming Inter-Korean Summit meeting would create a historic momentum, to bring peace, security and, eventually, a peaceful reunification of the Korean peninsula.  He was also confident that a negotiated solution would be reached with Iran.  The ultimate goal was the complete elimination of weapons of mass destruction.  “If we fail, these weapons may one day eliminate us,” he said.


“We at the UN must take the long view, in politics as in life,” he said, adding that even as the organization dealt with the here and now, it must think about tomorrow.  Yesterday, he had spoken about climate change as the defining issue of our time.  The international community had agreed, and now it was time for action. “Let us go to Bali and make a breakthrough,” he said.


He said that this year marked the mid-point for the Millennium Development Goals.  There had been successes, and around the world unprecedented numbers of people were lifting themselves out of poverty.  Yet, the rising tide of globalization had not lifted all boats, as witnessed most acutely in Africa, home of what the World Bank had called “the bottom billion” of the world’s poor.  “We must pay careful attention to the nations with special needs.  We must heed the voices of the world’s poorest peoples, who often go unheard,” he said.


The Millennium Goals were still achievable, so long as the international community helped the poorest nations break free of the traps that often ensnared them.  He said that some of those traps related to bad governance, others to disease and poor health.  It was intolerable that HIV/AIDS continued as a modern-day scourge.  It was also intolerable that nearly 10 million children died every year from preventable diseases, such as malaria.  The United Nations must do more to better integrate its efforts in health, education, agriculture and infrastructure to deliver better results.  The donor community must do more to deliver on promises of aid, debt relief and market access.


He went on to say that the Human Rights Council must live up to its responsibilities as the torchbearer of human rights consistently and equitably around the world.  Mr. Ban said that he would strive to translate from words into deeds the concept of “responsibility to protect”, to ensure timely action so that populations did not face genocide, ethnic cleansing or crimes against humanity.  “Our international tribunals continue their work, from Rwanda to Sierra Leone and, soon Lebanon.  The age of impunity is dead,” he declared.


Meanwhile, the United Nations brave and committed humanitarian workers continued to do their best to save lives and protect civilian populations from armed conflict, children from starvation and women from shameful violence.  “This, above all, is the UN’s front line: We stand up for those who cannot help themselves,” he said. 


Finally, he said that he was often filled with a sense of humility when he looked at the challenges.  So many hopes had been laid at the steps of the United Nations.  It was the Organization’s duty to live up to those hopes with dignity and humility.  The United Nations must transform the way that it worked.  It must focus more on results than bureaucratic procedures.  “The pendulum of history is swinging in our favour -– multilateralism is back,” he said, adding that it had become clear that the United Nations was not just the best way, but the only way, to effectively address the challenges of the future.


General Assembly President


Assembly President SRGJAN KERIM (the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) said delegates had gathered to debate the urgent challenges that were collectively and individually faced by nations today.  Recalling the theme for this year’s debate, ‘Responding to climate change,’ he highlighted the five key priorities of the session: climate change, financing for development, the Millennium Development Goals, countering terrorism and renewing the management, effectiveness and coherence of the Organization, including Security Council reform.


The dramatic effects of climate change had become increasingly visible and violent, he said, with those least responsible for it suffering the most. Countries had sent a strong political message that the time for action had come, which was why he had proposed creating a comprehensive road map to guide the way forward for the United Nations.  He urged taking stock -– to outline the instruments and structures necessary to address climate change –- articulating a clear vision of the way forward, and finally, developing a strategy.


He said modernizing management and implementing greater coherence across the system would enable the United Nations to deliver better results on all priorities.  He called on delegates to renew support for the Secretary-General in his efforts to make the Organization more effective.  By dealing systematically with substance, the General Assembly could demonstrate global leadership on those important issues.


The basic values and norms of international relations were undergoing a profound transition characterized by great opportunities and challenges, he continued.  He noted that communities were increasingly shaped by global economic forces.  Overall wealth was increasing, with more people benefiting from expanded trade.  But, sharp social divisions continued to persist, with half the world’s people living on less than $2 per day.  The burden of expectation for a better future was growing daily, and education -– the key to empowerment -– was still lacking for 100 million young children.  “Let us not spare any effort to move the world towards a sense of genuine belonging, shared opportunity and responsibility,” he stressed.


Achieving the Millennium Development Goals was not solely a test of the Organization’s ability to deliver on promises, he continued.  It was, above all, a test of moral convictions, which was why, in consultation with the Secretary-General, he intended to work closely with countries to hold a Millennium Development Goals leaders meeting during the session.


In an era of globalization, capital flows were becoming volatile and nations were growing increasingly vulnerable to threats, such as terrorism, arms trafficking, weapons of mass destruction and pandemics.  He called upon the delegates to use all opportunities to move towards a lasting peace in the Middle East, Iraq, Afghanistan and Darfur.  Countries must be in a position to respond to such challenges.  Recalling comments by the sixty-first Assembly President, he said countries were facing a growing gap between actions that must be taken and the multilateral means at their disposal to do so.


In closing, he said that, by confronting the challenges of our times, countries could forge a “new culture” of international relations.  He urged States to act with purpose and vision.  If fully implemented, the commitments made at the 2005 World Summit, and others, could create the conditions for lasting prosperity.  He encouraged States to “achieve more” during the current session, through more dialogue, rather than monologue; more focus on results; and a spirit of cooperation and mutual respect.


Statements


LUIZ INÁCIO LULA DA SILVA, President of Brazil, welcomed the Secretary-General’s decision to encourage high-level debate on climate change.  “If the groundwork on global development is not rebuilt, the risks of unprecedented environmental and human catastrophe will grow,” he said.  The predatory and senseless notion that profits and wealth could grow forever, at any cost, must be overcome.  In order to salvage “our common heritage”, there should be a new and more balanced distribution of wealth, internationally and within each nation.  Social equity was the best weapon against the planet’s degradation.


Highly industrialized countries should set the example by fully complying with commitments under the Kyoto Protocol, he continued.  He encouraged the Assembly to set more ambitious environmental goals beyond 2012, beginning with universal accession to the Protocol.  His country would soon launch a National Plan to Combat Climate Change.  That initiative followed other efforts which had cut the rate of deforestation in the Amazon region in half over the last three years.  “ Brazil will under no circumstance abdicate either its sovereignty or its responsibilities in the Amazon,” he added.  He expressed hope that his country’s experience on climate change would serve as an example to other countries.  The international community should adopt an integrated political approach to the environmental agenda.  He proposed a new Conference on Environment and Development to be hosted by Brazil in 2012.  The purpose would be to review what had been achieved since the “Rio-92” Conference and to set a new course of action.


“We will not overcome the terrible impacts of climate change until humanity changes its patterns of energy production and consumption,” he said.  He suggested a greater use of biofuels for energy.  Biofuels significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions and could open up excellent opportunities for some poor and developing countries in Latin America, Asia, and Africa.  His country’s experience over the past 30 years showed that biofuel production did not affect food security.  It was possible to combine biofuels with environmental protection and food production.  In the future, Brazilian biofuels on the world market would have a seal of assurance for its social, labour, and environmental quality.  An international conference to lay the foundations for global cooperation on the issue of biofuels had been scheduled for 2008 in Brazil.


In its fight against poverty, he said Brazil was becoming more equal and more dynamic.  There had been an increase in jobs and a greater distribution of income.  His country had been successful at both paying off debt and honouring its commitment to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.  It had achieved the first goal 10 years ahead of schedule, cutting poverty by half.  To defeat poverty completely, he said it would require more than just international solidarity.  It would require “new economic relations that no longer penalize poor countries”.  The World Trade Organisation (WTO) Doha round of talks should promote a true pact for development by adopting fair and balanced rules for international trade.


“Building a new international order is no rhetorical turn of phrase; it is a matter of common sense,” he said.  He called for increased participation by developing countries in major international decision-making bodies, specifically the Security Council, and supported French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s proposals to reform the Council.  Decision-making processes within financial institutions should also be reviewed.  He stressed the importance of the United Nations as “the best tool to deal with today’s international challenges”.  The way to foster peace and development should be through multilateral diplomacy.  Referring to the murals “War” and “Peace” painted by a Brazilian artist and presented to the United Nations 50 years ago, he said the “War” mural was visible as visitors entered the building and “Peace” as they left.  The message was simple, but powerful, he said.  “Transforming suffering into hope and war into peace is the essence of the United Nation’s mission,” he concluded.  “ Brazil will continue to work to materialize these high expectations.”


United States President GEORGE W. BUSH, said that 60 years ago representatives from 16 nations had gathered to negotiate a new international bill of rights: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which stood as a landmark achievement in the history of human liberty.  It recognized the inherent dignity of all members of the human family as the foundation of human freedom in the world.


Achieving the promise of the Declaration required answering the immediate needs of today, he continued.  When innocent people were trapped in a life of murder and fear, the Declaration was not being upheld.  When societies were cut off from the prosperity of the global economy, the world was worse off.  Changing those underlying conditions was what the Declaration called the work of “larger freedom.”  As the United Nations must work for great purposes –- to free people from tyranny, hunger, illiteracy, poverty and despair –- he called on States to join in that “mission of liberation”.


Recalling the first article of the Declaration, he said the first mission of the United Nations required liberating people from tyranny and violence.  That truth was being denied by terrorists and extremists, who killed innocent people with the aim of imposing their hateful vision on humanity.  He urged all civilized nations to work together to stop them by sharing intelligence and choking off their finances.  The best way to defeat the dark ideology of extremists was with the vision of liberty that founded the United Nations, and the United States saluted nations that had recently “taken strides toward liberty”, including Ukraine, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Mauritania, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Morocco.


Moderate leaders in the Palestinian Territories were working to build free institutions that fought terror, and he called on the international community to support them, so as to advance the vision of two democratic States of Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace.  Citizens in Lebanon, Afghanistan and Iraq had also made the choice for democracy, and every civilized nation had a responsibility to stand with them.


In Belarus, North Korea, Syria and Iran, brutal regimes denied people fundamental rights, he said.  In Burma, a military junta had imposed a 19-year reign of fear, in which basic freedoms of speech and worship were severely restricted, ethnic minorities were persecuted, and political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi, were being held.  While the ruling junta remained unyielding, the people’s desire for freedom was unmistakable, he stated.  In announcing steps to bring peaceful change to the country, he said the United States would tighten economic sanctions on regime leaders and their financial backers, impose an expanded visa ban on those responsible for the most egregious human rights violations, and continue to support humanitarian groups.  He urged the United Nations to use economic leverage to help people regain their freedom.


Turning to Cuba, he said the long rule of “a cruel dictator” was nearing its end, and Cuban people were ready for their freedom.  In Cuba’s transition, the United Nations must insist on free speech and, ultimately, competitive elections.  In Zimbabwe, he said the behaviour of the Mugabe regime was an “assault on its people and an affront to the principles to the Universal Declaration”, calling on the Organization to insist on change in Harare and freedom for the nation’s people.


In Sudan, where innocent civilians were suffering repression and many in the Darfur region were losing their lives to genocide, he said the United States had responded with tough sanctions against those responsible for violence, and provided more than $2 billion in humanitarian and peacekeeping aid.  He looked forward to attending a Security Council meeting, chaired by French President Sarkozy that would focus on Darfur, and appreciated France’s leadership in helping to stabilize the country’s neighbours.  The United Nations must live up to its promise to promptly deploy peacekeeping forces to Darfur.


He said the second mission of the United Nations required liberating people from hunger and disease, and the United Nations was carrying out “noble efforts” to live up to the words embodied in article 25 of the Declaration, which outlined all peoples’ right to adequate living standards.  More than half of the world’s food assistance came from the United States, which had sent emergency food stocks to camps in Sudan and had proposed an innovative initiative to alleviate hunger, whereby the United States would purchase crops from Africa and elsewhere to help break the cycle of famine in the developing world.


On HIV/AIDS and malaria, acknowledging that the Global Fund was working with Governments and the private sector to fight the disease, he said the United States had taken those steps further with its $15 billion Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which brought cutting-edge medicines to more than one million people in sub-Saharan Africa.  Earlier this year, he had proposed doubling the initial commitment to $30 billion.  Further, malaria had taken as many lives as HIV/AIDS in some countries, most of whom were children under the age of five. “Every one of these deaths is unnecessary,” he said, noting that two years ago the United States had launched a $1.2 billion malaria initiative, and calling on States to “find new ways to join this cause”.


The third mission required “liberating people from the chains of illiteracy and ignorance”, he said, underscoring that when nations made investments to educate their people, the world benefited, as education “unleashes the talent and potential of citizens”.  The United States had trained teachers and administrators, distributed tens of millions of textbooks, helped to raise school standards, and was working to expand access for women and girls.


Finally, he said the mission of the United Nations required “liberating people from poverty and despair”. The United States had dramatically increased its development assistance, he said, highlighting the Millennium Challenge Account established to reward nations that govern justly, and underscoring that the United States was ensuring that aid dollars achieved results.  In the long run, he said the best way out to lift people out of poverty was through trade and investment.  He recalled that developing nations that had significantly lowered their tariffs in the 1990s had seen their per capita income grow three times faster than other developing countries.  The international community had an historic chance to open global markets with the successful conclusion of the Doha trade round, which would include openings in agriculture, goods and services and cuts in trade-distorting subsidies.


The United States was working with the United Nations to alleviate immediate human needs, he continued, noting that he appreciated discussions on climate change led by the Secretary-General last night.  He said the goals outlined today could not be achieved without United Nations reform.  The Organization had been silent on the repression by regimes from Havana and Caracas to Pyongyang and Tehran, while focusing its criticism excessively on Israel.  To be credible, the United Nations must reform its Human Rights Council.


On Security Council reform, the United States was open to the prospect of expansion of membership, believing that Japan was well qualified, and that other powers should also be considered.  He called on States to work for an institution that adhered to strict ethical standards and lived up to the principles of the Universal Declaration.  With the commitment of the General Assembly, a world could be built where all were created equal and free to pursue their dreams.  “This is the founding conviction of my country.  It is the promise that established this body.  And with our determination, it can be the future of our world.”


JOHN AGYEKUM KUFUOR, President of Ghana, said that during the ninth ordinary session of the Assembly of the African Union in Accra this year, participants had laid out an agenda designed to deepen the political and economic integration of Africa by establishing a continental union government to aid in development.  Recognizing that accelerated development would be more effective and successful in an atmosphere of peace and security, the African Union had placed the resolution and prevention of conflict among its top priorities.  To that end, it created the African Union Peace and Security Council to construct a more robust and dependable security architecture within Africa, with plans to set up an African Standby Force in the near future.


Continuing, he said that, although the urgent end of the prevailing crises in Côte d’Ivoire and Somalia, as well as the Ethiopia-Eritrea conflict, had remained imperative, the international community needed to pay equal attention to the consolidation of peace in countries emerging from conflicts, such as Burundi, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  It was also necessary to address the root causes of the conflicts, including the lack of good governance, respect for the rule of law, and human rights.  Ghana fully supported the Security Council resolution authorizing the deployment of a hybrid operation in Darfur with the consent of the Sudanese government and called for its speedy implementation.  Further, the enormity of the challenges in Somalia had gone well beyond the capacity of the African Union, and required the concerted support of the United Nations.  He urged that, under Security Council Resolution 1772 (2007), the United Nations consider the African Union’s request for financial, logistical, and technical support towards the full deployment of the African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and enable African Union member States to contribute troops, while at the same time develop a contingency plan for the deployment of a United Nations force to replace AMISOM in February.


Despite those remaining conflicts, Africa, contrary to some misconceptions, had not become a “lost cause,” he continued.  As a result of the improvement in the macro-management of many African economies, the positive average gross domestic product growth of African countries increased from 5 per cent in 2005 to nearly 6 per cent in 2006 and it had been projected that those countries would sustain 6 per cent in coming years.  The World Bank recently rated Ghana’s economy as among the top ten reformers in facilitating business.  Developmental challenges existed, however.  Many countries could miss the 2015 targets of the Millennium Development Goals, if unfavourable terms of trade against exports from developing countries remained.  He called on developed countries to enhance market access by removing subsidies that harmed agricultural exports and to dismantle tariff escalation regimes that undermined the export of added-value products from developing countries.


In Africa, he said, the consequences of climate change had made it difficult for many to guarantee the necessities of life.  Erratic rainfall patterns, drought, desertification, floods, and other weather-related patterns had exacerbated famine, retarded efforts to reduce poverty, and undermined development progress.  He urged the international community to accelerate its cooperation in aiding developing countries’ efforts to adapt to climate change impact through finance and technology transfer. 


Despite the collective efforts of the world regarding disarmament and non-proliferation, the world had remained unsafe as ever, he said, and little had been done to reverse the abysmal developments within the disarmament realm.  In an era of collective security, it had become imperative that heads of state replace unilateralism with multilateralism and, as the bastion of international peace and security, the United Nations should assume a leadership role.  Ghana had reaffirmed support for the Secretary-General’s proposal to establish an Office for Disarmament Affairs and had urged Member States to extend unfettered support.  Ghana continued to strongly advocate for the right of States, especially developing countries, to peacefully use nuclear technology, given its immense contribution to socio-economic development.  However, Ghana also recognized that countries should pursue that right under the rubric of international agreements.  He had, therefore, joined others in calling for the strengthening of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) verification mechanism, to allow the agency to discharge its responsibility effectively and efficiently.


As Africa had continued to make significant progress toward healing the wounds of long wars that had plagued regions of the continent, the trade of illicit small arms and light weapons had wrought havoc on millions of people and fuelled insecurity and instability.  While laudable progress had been made since the adoption of the United Nations Programme of Action in 2001, Africa had not attained the envisaged goal and looked to the United Nations to lead efforts at stemming the proliferation of those “weapons of mass destruction.”  Ghana also recognized that peacekeeping had undergone tremendous change on account of the complexities of regional conflicts and, as one of the oldest and consistent contributors to peacekeeping, it welcomed the restructuring of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and pledged to continue to support the United Nations as it sought new ways to enhance its peace operations.


NURSULTAN NAZARBAYEV, President of Kazakhstan, spoke of the need to reform international security.  He made historical reference to the fears raised by the advent of nuclear arms and said that little had been done to allay those fears, despite the establishment at the first session of the General Assembly of a Commission to Deal with the Problems Raised by the Discovery of Atomic Energy.  Today the race for the possession of nuclear weapons has been joined by terrorist organizations.


He said the problem was a lack of international consensus on the issue, leading to weakening of the collective security system.  He proposed adapting the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons to new realities and erecting legal barriers to stop proliferation.  It was insufficient to apply sanctions to non-nuclear states.  Nuclear powers must lead the way by reducing and renouncing nuclear arsenals.  Kazakhstan chose to close its nuclear testing facility and voluntarily gave up its arsenal of nuclear missiles shortly after independence -- the first nuclear power to do so -- establishing trust in the global community.   In return, security was enhanced, investment expanded, the economy improved and Kazakhstan was transformed from an aid recipient to a “new donor state.”  He posed a question: “Why not follow our example instead of wasting astounding amounts on the arms race?”


Regionally, he addressed the issue of drug trafficking and its role in funding terrorism.  He expressed concern over the difficulties in reconstructing Iraq and stabilizing Afghanistan.  He called upon Iran to prove the peaceful character of its nuclear programme and a peaceful resolution of the “so-called” crisis around Iran.  He was pleased that the Secretary General supported Kazakhstan’s proposal to establish a United Nations peacekeeping fund to which states would voluntarily contribute 1 per cent of their military budgets.


On climate change, he described the disaster of the Aral Sea, which had lost three quarters of its water by the 1990s, devastating millions of people living around it and damaging the environment of the Eurasian continent by salt from the exposed sea bed.  As a major energy producer, he proposed discussion of a global energy and environment strategy at the 2012 World Summit on Sustainable Development and said he was committed to ensuring global energy balance and security.  He proposed a Eurasian Pact on Stability of Energy Delivery.  He also drew attention to the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building in Asia, a regional collective security structure, currently comprising 18 States occupying 90 per cent of Asia’s territory, whose people made up 50 per cent of the world’s population.


“Inter-faith tension feeds the social basis of international terrorism and religious extremism,” he said.  Kazakhstan, home to 130 ethnic groups and 45 confessions, has hosted two fora of leaders of world and traditional religions, seeking to find ways to ease inter-faith tensions.  He proposed that the third such conference, scheduled for 2009, be held under the auspices of the United Nations.  He also expressed support for Security Council reform of both permanent and non-permanent members, on the basis of equitable geographic representation and respect for the sovereign equality of states.  Kazakhstan viewed the United Nations as the only international body capable of influencing, in an effective way, the issues of war and peace.  It wanted to see the role and authority of the Organisation strengthened.


JOSÉ MANUEL ZELAYA ROSALES, President of Honduras, said that his country had made great economic strides and had seen a serious reduction in poverty.  The climate was now more conducive for public and private enterprise.  Most of the people of the country believed in democracy, social liberalism and a free market economy.  However, international trade operated in an unequal and inequitable way, similar to relations between economically weak and powerful countries.  Though the purported fairness of global trade was often touted, the reality was that there was an “invisible code” of discrimination and marginalization at work.  That issue must be addressed frankly, lest the fallacy of equitable markets took hold as truth.


While acknowledging that the playing field was not level, he said that developing countries would nevertheless demand to be treated fairly.  They would demand a true “free trade system” that benefited all countries.  By dint of hard work, farmers in developing countries had earned the right to trade fairly in the best markets.  “We are not asking for sympathy, we are asking for respect,” he said, adding that developing countries were asking that their hard work be recognized by the global adoption of rules that were fair and equitable.


He said that the economies of developing countries had also been severely damaged by the “bloodletting” that had taken hold in the world oil markets over the past few years.  All that was exacerbated by the intolerable pressure put on such countries by the “rulers of international trade”.  The international community must take the opportunity provided by the heightened public awareness around current oil prices and the domineering tactics of large petroleum companies, to search for sustainable energy, including renewable and clean energy sources.


Turning to the issue of migration, he called on the Assembly to place migration firmly on the development agenda where it belonged.  Migrants were not criminals.  People and populations migrated for myriad reasons, including conflict and economic hardship.  As a complex social phenomenon, it deserved scientific treatment, beyond “feeling and emotion”.  Migrants were human beings and deserved to be treated as such.  The international community must recognize their rights at the same time as it demanded responsibilities of them.  He called for a legal framework that made migration an ordered process.  “We must end the shameful treatment of migrants,” he said, calling for families to be reunified, for hard work to be recognized and for existing commitments to be met.


He said that his country reaffirmed its solidarity with all peoples fighting for freedom, including the people of Taiwan.  Honduras stood with all nations trying to overcome underdevelopment and despair.  The most disadvantaged people of the world needed help.  Honduras wished for a peaceful world, where all nations were in the service of mankind and not trade or material wealth.


SHEIKH HAMAD BIN KHALIFA AL-THANI, Amir of Qatar, touched on the challenges that threatened peace and security.  Noting that the present session had convened at a time when more than one-fifth of the world’s people were observing the fasting of Ramadan, he stressed his conviction to promote coexistence among nations, and address important issues before the international community.


He recalled Security Council resolution 1770 (2007), adopted on 10 August, adding that it had restored the rightful focus of the United Nations on Iraq.  Major conflicts in the world had become too big to allow one single power to handle them.  That responsibility should be assigned to the United Nations, which embodied the laws of the international community.  For the United Nations to be more effective, structures must be reformed to adapt to changes that had taken place since the adoption of the Charter in 1945.  The situation in Iraq required the international community to assume its responsibilities, he said, noting the importance of preserving the territorial integrity of that country.


He said the work of the United Nations in development should be accorded the highest priority, due to its close relationship to peace and security.  He highlighted Qatar’s initiative to hold an international conference on financing in Doha next year.  Another major challenge related to the protection of the environment.  Today’s situation required cooperation to develop new concepts and long-term solutions, and efforts should be pursued by developed and developing countries alike.  He supported any and all measures aimed at protecting the environment and promoting sustainable development.


Turning to aid, he said the volume should be increased to further national development strategies.  He was concerned at the decline of the real value of official development assistance seen in 2006.  Donors should make additional efforts to assist sub-Saharan countries and advance the Organization’s development agenda.  Concerning trade, he said the successful conclusion of the Doha trade round would provide new opportunities for multilateral transactions.  He was concerned at the deadlock on the Doha development agenda.  He hoped leaders would put that phase behind them and that industrialized countries would show practical results that would be beneficial to all parties.


He was convinced all Arab and Muslim issues were related to the world’s problems as a whole.  A collective international will, as embodied in the United Nations and in the principles on which the Charter was based, would benefit the whole world.  Just causes were always protected by the rule of law, he said.


NICOLAS SARKOZY, President of France, said that he had never seen the United Nations, borne of the desire of humankind to oppose force and violence with justice and peace, as a mere “political construct”.  Indeed, he had seen it as an awakening of the human conscience against all that threatened to destroy humanity.  Still, while he had never believed that the United Nations could prevent all wars, tragedies and crimes, what he did know was that, without the Organization, it would be impossible to end conflicts that appeared insoluble.  To that end, he drew the Assembly’s attention to the genocide in Cambodia, the independence of Timor-Leste and other situations that would have “degenerated into tragedy” without the United Nations.


France was convinced that the cohesions and determination of the international community, of which the United Nations was the instrument, was a vital necessity.  Such cohesion was “our sole bulwark against the blindness and folly that grips humankind”.  The message he brought from France was a simple one: in this world where the fate of each person depended on others, the United Nations must be strengthened, not weakened.  Reforming the Organization and adapting it to today’s world was a French priority.  “We cannot afford to wait any longer,” he said.  It was critical to restore the organization’s ability to appeal to the universal human conscience.  That was an appeal for peace, open-mindedness, diversity, responsibility and justice. 


There would be no peace in the world unless the international community stood firm in its support of those people struggling for freedom, he continued.  He said that international community must renew its determination to fight against terrorism, stand firm in its resolve to put an end to wars in the Middle East, as well as to end the horror of Darfur, and the humanitarian crisis in Somalia.  There would also be no peace in the world if the international community faltered in the face of nuclear arms proliferation. 


Saying that he was “weighing his words carefully”, he turned to the Iranian nuclear question.  That country was entitled to nuclear power for civilian purposes.  “But if we allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, we would incur an unacceptable risk to stability in the region and the world.”  Tehran’s acquisition of such weapons would also put at risk the very existence of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.  “I want to say here, in the name of France, that we can only resolve this crisis with a combination of firmness and dialogue,” he said.


He said that, while that was the spirit in which France intended to address the matter, at the same time, France believed that it was the international community’s duty to confront those who sought power and constantly threatened that fragile balance of peace “with unflinching unity and determination to uphold the law.”  That was not just a moral duty.  It was a political duty, and unless it was upheld, “the age-old demons of violence and hatred will once more gain the upper hand.”


France also believed that there would be no peace without respect for diversity, national identity, religion and belief and culture.  To that end, he reminded the Assembly that the international community would never avert a clash among civilizations by forcing everyone to think and believe the same thing.  “In the name of France, I say that cultural and religious diversity must be accepted everywhere and by everyone,” he said.  Respect for such diversity was the very spirit of the United Nations, which was not an expression of ideology, religion or belief.  That was why it was the only place in the world where all people could come together and talk to, and understand, one another.


He said that France would stand shoulder to shoulder with all people trying to make the world a better place for all and which was respectful of the diversity of others.  It was on that principle that France would stand with Lebanon at all times.  It was on that principle that France believed that Israelis and Palestinians would find within themselves the strength to live in peace.  It was on that principle that France would call on all religions to stand together and vanquish fundamentalism and radicalism.


He called on the Assembly to look at the world as it was and ask what could be done to make it a better place.  Making the world better meant standing for justice and realizing that justice meant, among other things, ensuring a state for the Palestinian people; security for the people of Israel; independence and sovereignty for the people of Lebanon; and reconciliation for the Iraqi people, in all their diversity.  Justice also meant ensuring that both rich and poor children had the same opportunities to succeed.  He also called on the industrialized world to create fair trade markets, ensure access to energy and clean water, and to stop exploiting the natural resources of defenceless nations.  “Because the poor and exploited will one day rise up against the injustice done to them,” he said.


“What the world needs now is a new state of mind,” he said.  “We need a genuine…ecological and economic New Deal.”  He called on all States to found a new world order based on the notion that common global goods belonged to all humankind.  He appealed to the United Nations to turn back “this age of scarcity” and ensure access for all to vital resources such as water, energy, food and medication.  “It is up to us to do so … and to remain true to the values of those in whose names we are gathered here today.”


DANIEL ORTEGA SAAVEDRA, President of Nicaragua, reminded the Assembly of the millions of victims of colonialism and neo-colonialism, and singled out other victims: of the Holocaust, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, apartheid, and particularly the “genocide perpetrated by global capitalism”.  He remembered the victims of natural phenomena that had been brought on by global capitalism, including the victims of the earthquake in Peru and floods in Africa.  Mayans, who had achieved their autonomy in 1987, were today part of a process that would see their full rights acknowledged.


Recalling that 18 years ago he had spoken before the General Assembly, he had listened very carefully to the second speaker at today’s session.  He found no difference between the thoughts of those who had then led that imperialist power with the speech he had heard this morning.  United States presidents came into office with the best of intentions, but failed to understand that they were instruments of an empire, which was one of many on the planet.  “They rise, become superpowers and begin to dictate as though they were god,” he said.  What they called “assistance” was no more than the debt they owed to the world’s peoples.  The same circumstances of repression and terror existed today.


Who dictated today’s international economic order? he asked.  It was a minority of dictators who imposed their interests.  Immigrants from Europe who had become “owners” of what did not belong to them imposed their culture and the interests of the colonizers, which had given rise to the situation today.  Recalling the “brutal blockade” against Cuba, he said it did not take into account so-called democratic principles.  The President of the United States represented an Administration that at one time had attempted to assassinate the President of Cuba, Fidel Castro.  With what authority did he question the right of Iran and North Korea to nuclear development for peaceful purposes?  Even if their desires were for military purposes, how could it be questioned by a country that had dropped bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? 


The General Assembly was a reflection of a world in which a minority was imposing capitalism on an impoverished majority, he said.  Global capitalism was a “beast” and it had “tentacles everywhere”.  If the United States wanted to demonstrate its desire to end the threat of nuclear weapons used for military purposes, it must be the first to move towards military disarmament.  Only then would it have moral authority.  All countries had the right to take decisions for development, including nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.


On Puerto Rico, he said the island was still fighting for its independence, and the United States continued to pursue its neo-colonial policies.  The United States thought it would be easy to dominate Afghanistan, but that invasion was launched on a campaign of lies.  He could only conclude that the enemy was still the same after 18 years -- global imperialist capitalism.  Only “we the peoples” could change it.  The freedom of peoples was not really freedom, and it was important to fight in unity.


Concerning aid, he said no business person had provided any assistance to any country.  Developing countries were considered “insecure” and were being ransacked.  The amount of funds sent back by Asians and Africans to their families was a miserable amount compared to what was extracted through “institutionalized oppression”.  Immigrants in the United States worked harder than anyone else, yet no one was doing them a favour.  Companies were using cheap labour, benefiting from clauses in free trade agreements.  The “law of the jungle” prevailed.


The world needed fair trade, he continued.  A fair international market did not amount to reducing subsidies, as the disparities were so enormous that they could not be removed.  Radical solutions were needed.  Only by changing policies could countries bring about a fair world.  In closing, he asked delegates to accept the congratulations of his people, who had been the victims of empire since 1856.  People should rise with dignity and not succumb to the global capitalist empire.


Prior to the following statement, the representative of Greece raised a point of order regarding Assembly President Kerim’s reference to the country of origin of the President of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.  He said that the Security Council, by its resolution 817 (1993) had recommended, and the General Assembly, by its resolution A/RES/47/225 dated 27 April 1993, had decided that the country in question should be provisionally referred to for all purposes within the United Nations as “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” pending settlement of the difference that had arisen over the name of that State.


He added that the Security Council, by its resolution 845(1993), urged “the parties to continue their efforts under the auspices of the Secretary-General to arrive at a speedy settlement of the remaining issues”.  Therefore, he requested that the proper name “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” be used for all purposes within the United Nations, pursuant to the above-mentioned resolutions and the fact that there were ongoing negotiations between the two countries.


The Assembly President, also a citizen of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, said he was “due to show full respect to the dignity of every single Member State of the Assembly”, including his own.  He then invited the President of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to make his statement.


BRANKO CRVENKOVSKI, President of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, welcomed the proposal of the Assembly President to discuss climate change during the general debate.  The alleviation of the impacts of climate change was one of the greatest challenges for both individual countries and the international community.  Providing clear political support to respond to the challenge should be considered an urgent priority, but should not impede other priorities, such as economic growth and the reduction of poverty. 


Calling for United Nations reform, he said: “The world has changed and so did the challenges.  The United Nations must also continue to change in order to be ready to respond.”  The 2005 Summit outcome document created a solid basis for reform but more needed to be done to increase the Organization’s transparency and effectiveness.  He expressed strong support for management reform to enhance the United Nations efficiency and accountability.  Recommendations in the report of the United Nations high-level panel on system-wide coherence should also be implemented.  The Human Rights Council should strengthen its role in promoting and protecting global human rights.  To assist in that process, he had put forward his candidature for membership for the period from 2009 to 2012.


He expressed hope that future meetings of the sixty-second General Assembly session would focus on strengthening United Nations capacities in the areas of development, humanitarian assistance and the environment.  Disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation should also remain high on the agenda.  The Assembly should focus on promoting the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.  That provided an “excellent framework” for individual and joint action against terrorist attacks, which continued to threaten the world.  On the Millennium Development Goals, he reaffirmed his commitment to a global partnership for development.  Every country should bear the responsibility for its own development but global actions were necessary to support national efforts.  Some regions, such as Africa, needed more shared responsibility to achieve projected targets.


United Nations involvement in Africa, including in the Sudan, remained of “exceptional importance”, he said, also expressing support for the efforts of the Quartet and the road map to resolve the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East.  The United Nations presence in Lebanon and its recently expanded role in Iraq also had his backing.  His country had been part of the international anti-terrorist coalition in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it continued to support the unity of Iraq.


Speaking on the situation in his own country, he said there were many challenges to tackle on the path towards a functional multi-ethnic democracy.  He committed his country to comprehensive reforms, in order to obtain the date for the beginning of pre-accession negotiations for membership in the European Union in 2008. Membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was also on his country’s agenda: “Bearing in mind the successful reforms that we have been implementing for years, we are deeply convinced that it would be realistic to obtain the invitation for membership” by April 2008.  European and Euro-Atlantic integration was the driving force for reform and stabilization in the region.  He supported the efforts of the international community for a timely resolution on the status of Kosovo, but stressed his disagreement with the idea of partitioning Kosovo according to ethnic lines.  Such a partition could have serious negative implications for the entire region. 


Referring to the point of order by Greece’s representative he said: “With or without a point of order, the name of my country is the Republic of Macedonia and it will always be the Republic of Macedonia.”


BINGU WA MUTHARIKA, President of Malawi, said his country had made progress in implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, through the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy, a “home grown” overarching national policy for creating wealth, achieving sustainable economic growth and development, and combating the endemic poverty that had engulfed the country.  Above all, the people of Malawi shared a common vision for eliminating poverty in a short period by transforming the country’s economy from one that was predominantly importing and consuming to one that was predominantly manufacturing and exporting


He said that, to reach the Millennium Development Goals, Malawi had targeted six “priorities within priorities”, and it continued to make progress in those areas.  On poverty, Malawi had reduced the number of people living below the poverty line from 54 per cent in 1998 to 45 per cent last year.  Regarding child mortality, Malawi had reduced the rate of child deaths from 189 per thousand in 2000, to 133 per thousand in 2006.  In the fight against Malaria, Malawi had distributed about 5 million insecticide treated mosquito nets, increasing the number of women and children sleeping under them from 8 per cent to 20 per cent.  It planned on distributing 3 million more this year.  Over 5 million people had been tested for HIV/AIDS, 66 per cent of the population now had access to clean water, and 60 per cent of children had enrolled in primary school.


Since Malawi had begun to implement those priorities, the country had achieved a growth rate of nearly 9 per cent, he said, expressing confidence that his country would meet, or even surpass, most Millennium Development Goals by 2015.  Nevertheless, he appealed to Malawi’s development partners for “inter alia” support in accessing new technologies, especially for information and communication, capacity-building, and infrastructure development.


MICHELLE BACHELET, President of Chile, said her country had always championed the great causes of humanity, such as poverty reduction, HIV/AIDS, human rights, disarmament, non-proliferation, and world peace.  “The world becomes uncertain when we are not able to act together,” she said, adding, “globalization becomes unpredictable when we are not able to manage it.”  She called for the strengthening of multilateral institutions, the conclusion of international agreements, reform of the Security Council and United Nations management reform.  Consensus building was the only way to deal effectively with human rights issues, climate change, and social equity.


She stressed her commitment to promoting universal respect for human rights and the creation of a “fairer and more humane international order”.  She would work to improve her country’s human rights practices and domestic legislation and expressed satisfaction in the progress already made at the international and domestic levels.  The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance filled a gap in the system for protecting human rights from crimes against humanity.  That Convention should be ratified by her country in the near future; approval of the Optional Protocol against Torture would also be forthcoming.  She also expressed support for the Human Rights Council, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and democracy as a universal value.


The scientific evidence of the devastating effects of climate change was disturbing, and deserved the international community’s attention, she said.  Her country had experienced the ill effects for years, specifically glacier-melting and a depletion of the ozone layer in the region.  Chile had already taken some steps to mitigate the effects of global warming.  “There is no time to lose,” she said, stressing the need for immediate action.  Each nation had the obligation to construct a “new global political consensus” to generate collective action to solve the problem. “All of us must contribute, but especially those who have already polluted and achieved their development.”  Developed countries should provide financial and technical assistance to developing countries to help them combat climate change, and developing countries should take additional emission reduction actions. The Climate Change Conference in Bali should be the catalyst for progress in both those areas, and provide the parameters for a post-2012 process.


She said her country was winning its battle to eradicate poverty.  Construction of a social welfare system to guarantee the social rights of Chileans “from the cradle to old age” was in progress.  However, poverty was not just a national problem, but an international one.  Not enough progress had been made on the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and Member States should fulfil their commitments.  She supported the proposal of the United Kingdom to hold an international conference to focus concerted worldwide efforts on achieving the Goals.  “Social equity and the construction of globalization with a human face should become a central topic on our global agenda,” she said, adding that the United Nations should be the “centre of gravity” for all effective and efficient multilateralism.


JOSÉ SÓCRATES, Prime Minister of Portugal, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said only strong multilateral institutions could promote the fundamental values of peace, democracy, human rights, and development in the current world.  The United Nations was the foundation and focal point of shared ambitions and concerted efforts to maintain peace and security.  He stressed the European Union’s strong support for the Organization.  “Global challenges require global responses,” he said.  “They need effective multilateralism and that is our business here, in the United Nations and with the United Nations.  All this will be possible only if we all invest in this structure the trust and the public will allowing it to act effectively on the international scene with both legitimacy and determination.” 


Turning to the Millennium Development Goals, a challenge Member States had set for themselves, he said the Goals should oblige Member States to “hasten and enhance” the efficiency of their work to eradicate poverty and build a partnership for development.  To that end, the Union would endorse a European Union-Africa Joint Strategy this year, which would set a standard for shared responses. 


“Climate change is one of the great challenges facing mankind,” he continued.  The response to it should be global and collective with enough political will and urgent, determined action to achieve success.  He hoped yesterday’s High-Level Event on Climate Change would add momentum to the creation of a comprehensive post-2012 agreement on the climate regime.  In an effort to take the lead on environmental issues, the European Union decided to raise its commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions from 20 per cent to 30 per cent.  In doing so, he called once again for global emissions to be reduced by at least 50 per cent from 1990 levels by 2050.  Finally, he called for ambitious reforms to the institutional framework of United Nations environmental activities.  The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) should be upgraded to a specialized agency, a United Nations Environment Organization, in order to effectively build a broader strategy for strengthening international environmental governance.


Sustainable development also implied respect, protection, and fulfilment of human rights around the world, he said.  The Third Committee should continue to play a central role in the promotion and protection of human rights worldwide.  On recent events taking place in Myanmar, he expressed solidarity with its people and called upon the authorities to refrain from using violence against people protesting peacefully.  He also reaffirmed the European Union’s stand against the death penalty and called for a worldwide abolition of the practice.  The European Union planned to co-author a Security Council resolution on the issue.


He expressed support for a number of recent developments in conflict and post-conflict zones throughout the world, including: the creation of the African Union/United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur; the deployment of a multidimensional presence in the neighbouring areas of eastern Chad and northern Central African Republic; international efforts to seek a final resolution on the situation and status of Kosovo; and the reactivation of the Middle East peace process.  The latter remained a priority for the international community.  The European Union, as a member of the Quartet, reiterated its commitment to reaching a lasting solution.  “This can only happen”, he said, “through the creation of an independent, democratic, and viable Palestinian State living side by side, in peace and security, with Israel.”  The stabilization of Lebanon would also contribute to the stabilization of the Middle East.  On the issue of terrorism, he said “all terrorist acts are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, their form, or their manifestation.”  Countering terrorism should be a priority.


He emphasized the role international trade played in bringing different cultures and peoples together and called for the earliest possible agreement in the World Trade Organization’s Doha Development Round.  “It is vital for all key members to show a spirit of compromise and constructiveness and a genuine will to commit to a balanced agreement,” he said.  Political will was necessary in order to adapt the international system to today’s challenges.  “The response to these challenges lies in active and effective multilateralism.  And for all of us it lies in the United Nations,” he said.


MAHINDA RAJAPAKSA, President of Sri Lanka, chose to address the General Assembly in Sinhala, a living language once used by the ancient, advanced civilization of his country.  He was proud to inform the Assembly that his country had secured its Eastern Province, re-establishing law and order, despite the ongoing conflict with terrorists in the North.  He proposed making the area a model of development and rehabilitation.  Military operations had been launched only to convince the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) that a military victory would not be possible. The Government was committed to a negotiated and honourable end to “this unfortunate conflict”.


He said his priorities were the eradication of terrorism, establishment of democracy and development, oriented to human well-being, and ensuring economic development for low-income groups.  His country had been one of the first developing countries to promote universal health and education, gender equality and social mobilization.  Despite 25 years of brutal terrorism, social development was ongoing.  He called upon the global community to make the 62nd session the beginning of a new chapter, rather than just another session.


Protection of human rights, he said, grew naturally from the ancient civilization rooted in Buddhist principles of loving kindness and respect for life.  Historically, women enjoyed rights prescribed under the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.  As one of the founding members of the Human Rights Council, Sri Lanka believed that they were too important to be used to victimize States for political advantage.  They must be observed for their own sake.  He spoke of the impact of conflicts anywhere in the world on the global community, singling out the efforts of the Palestinian people to create a State.


The rule of law was being threatened by terrorism and other illegal activities.  The United Nations capacity to address those challenges effectively had been questioned.  Terrorism had reached across the globe.  Wherever it occurred, it remained terrorism.  The Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism remained a priority, but discussion had gone on endlessly and he called for a conclusion to these negotiations soon.  He supported strengthening United Nations mechanisms for countering fundraising for illegal and illicit activities, calling on the Secretary-General to allocate more resources to that area, especially in enhancing technical skills, which would benefit many developing countries.


The United Nations received limited resources, which had led to mixed results, he said.  Ineffectively designed, ineptly staffed and overlapping programmes did not serve the best interest of Member States, the primary goal of the Organization.  Sri Lanka was committed to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, but had found it challenging to do so in face of the loss of human life arising from natural and manmade disasters.  The programme envisioned included upgrading education and health programmes, livelihood initiatives for low-income groups, social welfare programmes and protections from narcotic drugs and diseases transmitted through social contact.  He called upon the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to implement new programmes to assist countries affected by those challenges. 


NICANOR DUARTE FRUTOS, President of Paraguay, said it was urgent to strengthen the objectives of the United Nations and ensure that the principles governing its functioning would work.  Today, there must be a new world order.  The practice of States, particularly of the most powerful, had not always been the most cooperative.  In recent Assemblies, delegates had focused on millennium challenges, yet, in the first decade of the new century, there had been a deterioration of peaceful coexistence.  While half of the world’s population lived in poverty, funds were squandered on weapons.  How much money had been earmarked for resolving poverty?  As long as poverty continued to rise, world peace would be threatened.


Paraguay and South America were calling for the globalization of democracy, and universalization of security on the basis of human dignity, he said.  In that way, Paraguay hoped to build a global union, which would work to eradicate hunger and extreme poverty, and promote prosperity through education and social protections without exclusions.  Paraguay was struggling for peace and working hard to make significant improvements.  He had sought radical change, and was continuing the progressive policies that had brought him to power.  In 2003, his Government had institutionalized political stability, not an easy task with a Parliament that did not always shoulder the responsibility of co-governing.  Nonetheless, that must be the matrix for establishing economic stability.  Having achieved economic stability, Paraguay began economic growth of historic proportions.  After a 20-year slump, his country had achieved an average growth of 4 per cent annually in the 2003 to 2007 period.


In 2008, per capita income would increase to $1,008, from $915.  His Government had built houses and devoted funds to the most vulnerable sector of society.


He said the Government had ensured the full freedom to organize freedom of expression and freedom of the press, though the press had not become a full vehicle of informed truth, nor had overcame extremism enough to be a source of daily knowledge.  Political parties worked with autonomy and pluralism existed in full practice.  There were still remnants of the fascism that had hampered diversity and conspired against progress.  However, the path for social justice had transformed the party, which today promoted social change.  The Government was rebuilding roads throughout the country, increasing production and ensuring that all citizens were part of the “social fabric”.  Most citizens understood that the Government’s steps must continue, and that anarchy and demagogy were a threat to peace, secularism and the state of law.


Paraguay was the most open country in the region, he continued, noting that its support of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) was a testament to that.  International mobilization of technology and resources was important.  Investment had shifted to regions where production was exploited and raw materials were undervalued.  Capital should be invested to update industries.  He called for an economic order that promoted a more equitable world economy through cooperation and fair treatment for all countries.  Markets, transparency and the tumbling of protectionist barriers were important in that context.


The United Nations must not delay its reform, he continued, adding that priority should be given to programmes to end extreme poverty and unemployment.  Wealth must be redistributed.  Paraguay, along with 30 landlocked countries, suffered marginalization and a lack of access to international markets.  The country suffered from climate change, the proof of which was the catastrophe of prolonged drought and fires.  He thanked the Presidents of Brazil and Venezuela for their help.  His country rejected inequality, and believed the United Nations was the most appropriate forum for outlining programmes aimed at true equality.  He also supported the request for admission for Taiwan, a nation that continued to struggle for its freedom.  In conclusion, he said inequality was not part of the human condition; rather it was the result of the poor relations that separated peoples.  He called for determination in building a more equitable community, which involved State and civil society.  When powerful countries stopped taking advantage of poorer countries -- then the United Nations would have a true impact on peoples’ lives.


ABDOULAYE WADE, President of Senegal, sent a message to his “brothers and sisters” of the African diaspora on the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slavery.  He called colonialism and its practice of slavery “shameful and repugnant”.  Despite accounts in some versions of “revisionist history”, colonialism could not boast of any civilizing mission or any positive fallout because it was, by nature, a negation of the human condition.  “In Senegal,” he said, “we say yes, we forgive, but no, we do not forget.”


Turning to the question of climate change, he said recent high-level debates confirmed the gravity of the phenomenon.  Combating climate change demanded innovative solutions that provided for countries that were not major contributors to the problem, but still suffered the consequences.  His country was aware of its responsibility to deal with climate change and had taken a number of steps to reduce its negative environmental impact, including:  the use of non-polluting technologies in its mining industry, the implementation of projects to prevent desertification, and projects to prevent coastal erosion.  He called on the international community to take the threat of coastal erosion in the region running from Morocco to Senegal more seriously and appealed for greater use of alternative energies and biofuels to prevent further environmental damage.


African countries continued to confront major obstacles to social and economic development, he said.  In particular, he noted the hypocrisy of the agricultural subsidies of developed countries.  Developing countries were being asked to open up their markets to free trade, while at the same time subsidies were shutting them out of markets in developed countries.  “ Africa is not poor,” he said.  “It has been made poor by a policy which exploited it and took out cheap raw materials.”  Trade measures were not enough to wipe out that injustice; further economic measures would be necessary.  In order to eradicate poverty in developing countries, the international community would need to change its definition of it.  Poverty should no longer be defined as persons living with “just one dollar a day”, but should be seen as any situation in which a person could not meet basic needs for drinking water, food and housing.  His country had already initiated projects that would provide affordable housing, running water, education and health care services to all.


Development was linked to the “digital revolution” which had created new challenges and opportunities for developing countries, he continued.  In 2003, he proposed a Fund for Digital Solidarity at the World Summit on Information Technology.  The Fund provided technological support and assistance to African countries.  Today, he called again for support for the Fund from Governments and from the private sector.


He said Security Council reform remained a priority for his country. Africa was the only continent not represented through permanent membership to the Council.  Considering the number of issues concerning Africa that passed through the Council, he said it was a legitimate request to have permanent representation.  His country had sent personnel and police to UNAMID and supported international efforts to provide for the people suffering in Darfur.


Further, the Middle East continued to be a situation of serious concern and he reconfirmed his support for the “just cause” of the Palestinian people for a free State.  More generally, the international community should “wipe out” war from the lives of all people, particularly the young.  To that end, his country planned to host the eleventh Summit of the Organization of Islamic Conference next year and proposed an Islamic-Christian dialogue, which would be a step forward towards peace and a greater understanding between the great religions.


THABO MBEKI, President of South Africa, recalling that delegates had gathered under the theme “Responding to Climate Change” at a time that marked the half-way point of achieving the Millennium Development Goals, said the world understood that the consequences of climate change undermined common efforts to achieve those Goals.  The world understood that the costs of doing nothing far outweighed those of taking concrete measures to address that challenge.  As the pace of climate change talks was “out of step” with the urgency indicated by science, he urged countries to significantly advance talks in Bali.  Although developed countries had an obligation to take the lead, all had a duty to do more according to national circumstance.


He said sustainable development had been reaffirmed as a central element of global action against poverty, and identified important linkages between poverty, the environment and the use of natural resources.  Many people understood from their bitter experience how their resource-rich areas had been transformed into arid, uninhabitable areas forcing migration to better-endowed regions.  Climate change, poverty and underdevelopment were human made.  The starting point for a future climate regime must be equity.  A balance between sustainable development and climate imperatives must be the basis of any agreement.


He recalled that declarations committing countries to defeating all dehumanizing conditions had been adopted at the Rio Earth Summit, Copenhagen Social Summit and the Monterrey Conference on Financing for Development, among others.  The poor could be forgiven, therefore, for thinking that global leadership at times sounded like “an empty vessel.”  The United Nations, which should pride itself with visible results in the fight against climate change, would find it difficult to demonstrate decisive progress, partly because it had not transformed its governance institutions.  Because the nations of the world were defined by the dominant and the dominated, the “dominant” had become the decision-makers in global forums and, accordingly, the skewed distribution of power had replicated itself in multilateral institutions to the disadvantage of the poor.


The poor would continue to strive for improvement of their wretched conditions, and, therefore, saw the United Nations as the natural instrument to accelerate progress.  Yet, it would be difficult for the United Nations, in its present form, to fully implement its own decisions, and therefore help them achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  Noble statements would continue to be uttered on many matters, including the need to successfully conclude the Doha development round, while little was done to implement agreements.


South Africa firmly believed that it would achieve the Millennium Development Goals, he said.  Having emerged from more than three centuries of colonialism, South Africa inherited two inter-linked economies:  the first and second economies, one developed and another informal.  His country sought to use the first economy as a base to transfer resources and modernize the second.  In a similar context, central to attaining the Millennium Development Goals was the critical matter of resource transfers from the North to the South.  There was an urgent need for massive resource transfers to developing countries through development assistance and trade, among other methods.


He went on to say that if countries did not succeed in building a climate change regime that balanced adaptation and mitigation, future generations would be burdened.  In that context, it was important to enter into partnership with Africa using the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) programme.  He called on countries to build a “durable bridge over the river that has divided our common global village.”  Together, developed and developing countries could address the challenges of climate change and sustainable development.


He concluded with a proposal for reducing poverty and environmental degradation.  He said it was well known that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) increased the price of oil by manipulating its supply.  Under his proposal, each time OPEC increased the price of oil, it would voluntarily add 2 per cent, 1 per cent dedicated to the fight against poverty and the other to environmental concerns.


NÉSTOR CARLOS KIRCHNER, President of Argentina, said this year’s sessions of the General Assembly should revitalize the United Nations as a global representative body.  One of its main roles would be to ensure international law would overcome international threats to peace. A multilateral approach was the only hope for achieving that goal.  “True international solidarity” and a respect for human rights was a necessity in defending people’s rights to peace and security.


On the question of economic development, he described the severe economic crisis his country had overcome.  It now had a solid economic basis within a democracy and had, without outside funding, paid back its debt to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).  Though Argentina had achieved relative economic success and now had solid monetary policies, it did not recommend its system for debt reduction and economic improvement to other countries.  Instead, each country should be able to seek out its own model for economic development, without outside interference. 


He called for changes to the IMF, saying that multilateral financial institutions needed to alter their frameworks to achieve true economic progress in developing countries.  Those countries needed to find ways to grow economically, while improving overall standards of living at the same time.  Argentina had achieved that goal by building stronger partnerships between the Government and the private sector.  Now, having overcome its crisis, Argentina was able to provide assistance for the poorest within its society and was able to meet the social needs of the population such as education, health and employment.  In the future, he said, it would be important for his country’s economy to continue to build commercial ties with other countries and multilateral negotiations with the WTO.  Tariff barriers should be reviewed, as they were an impediment to equality in world markets.  There was a need for more equitable relations and a better distribution of wealth. 


He expressed support for the rule of law and the battle against impunity.  He condemned those who violated human rights, while acknowledging that, in the past, his country had been accused of violations as well.  Now, his country was committed to punishing human rights violators and he supported the creation of the Human Rights Council.  He hoped the new mechanism would not disappoint, as a concrete human rights plan was essential.  Protecting the environment was also essential, and all countries should work together to accomplish the task.  He added, however, that industrialized countries should make a particular effort, since their individual activity had a large international impact.


Though international efforts to halt violence in the Middle East had failed in the past, now was not the time to sit back, he said. The Security Council and the Quartet should “work towards peace with courage”.  Citing previous acts of terrorism in Argentina, he condemned terrorism world-wide.  “There is no nation in the world which is free of possible terrorism,” he said, “that is why we must work here in the United Nations to fight this scourge.”  He called on the Assembly to hold any country or individual supporting terrorists or terrorism accountable.  In particular, he asked the Secretary-General and all Member States to address a previous act of terrorism in his country in which Iranian citizens were suspected of involvement.  To date, Iran had not provided full cooperation in the investigation of those acts.  He asked the Assembly to intervene and take appropriate steps to ensure Iran’s cooperation and compliance with international norms.  A proportional and multilateral approach should be taken in response to all acts of terrorism. 


He reaffirmed his support for disarmament, non-proliferation efforts, and the destruction of weapons of mass destruction.  He also joined the call for United Nations reform and hoped ongoing negotiations would create a more representative central body.  He ended on the question of sovereignty for the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).  The General Assembly had reviewed the issue in the past and had adopted a resolution which recognized the question of sovereignty and opened the issue up to negotiation between the United Kingdom and Argentina.  The United Kingdom had refused to negotiate the issue.  He said it was time for the United Kingdom to “shoulder its responsibility” and discuss the question of sovereignty.


MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, President of the Iran, said, in the present tumultuous world, where big powers were unable to solve present problems and the psychological security of societies was being targeted by an onslaught of propaganda, he planned to explain the roots and “ways out” of such predicaments.  Mankind was facing important diverse challenges, he said, the first being the organized attempts to destroy the institution of family and weaken the status of women.  Family, the most sacred human institution, had been respected by all peoples, religions and cultures.  Today, the world was witnessing an organized invasion by enemies of humanity to destroy that noble institution, which had been targeted by the promotion of lewdness.  Women were the manifestation of divine beauty, he said, and had been the targets of heavy exploitation by the holders of power.  That was a colossal betrayal of human society.


On the widespread violations of human rights, terrorism and occupation, he said human rights were being extensively violated by certain powers that had established secret prisons, abducted persons, and created secret trials and punishments without regard to due process.  They had used various pretexts to occupy sovereign States and then had used the prevailing situation as an excuse to continue occupation.  For more than 60 years, Palestine, as compensation for the loss they incurred during the war in Europe, had been under occupation of the illegal Zionist regime.  Palestinians had been displaced, or were under heavy military pressure.  The occupiers had been protected, while innocent Palestinians had been subjected to political, military and propaganda onslaughts. They also had been deprived of water.  The brutal Zionists had carried out targeted assassinations of Palestinians, and prevented people from returning to their homelands.


Iraq had been occupied under the pretext of overthrowing a dictator and the existence of weapons of mass destruction, he continued.  The Iraqi dictator, who had been supported by the same occupiers, was disposed of and no weapons of mass destruction were discovered, but the occupation continues under different excuses.  Not a day passes without people being killed, wounded or displaced and the occupiers not only refuse to be accountable, they speak of a new market for their arms as a resort of their military venture.  He said some powers had sacrificed all human values, including honesty, for the advancement of their goals.  They had openly abandoned morality, and sacrificed all good things for their own greed.  On the “violations of rules of international law and disrespect of commitments,” he said some who had drafted international law had openly violated it.  They had framed the United Nations Charter, but showed disrespect to the right of self-determination and independence of sovereign nations.  Most of those violations were committed by a few global powers.


Turning to the escalation of threats and the arms race, he said some powers had resorted to the language of threat when their logic failed.  European nations had been the victims of two world wars and today were living under the shadow of an arms race imposed on them by certain powers.  He noted that a “bullying” power had allowed itself to set up a missile system.  On the “inefficacy of international mechanisms in addressing these challenges and restoring durable peace and security,” he said there was hardly any Government that placed much hope in mechanisms to secure rights or defend territorial integrity.


The important question centred on the causes of the challenges he had described, he said.  The first factor could be found in relations that had resulted from World War II, as the victors had drawn a road map for global domination.  Further, he said the United Nations Security Council ranked first among all ineffective bodies, as it had created circumstances in which some powers, with exclusive right to veto, acted as prosecutor, judge and executor.  Citing the Korean and Viet Nam wars, as well as the war of the Zionists against the Palestinians and Lebanon, he said one Security Council member had supported one party against the other.  That same member had first occupied Iraq and then received Security Council authorization.  In Lebanon, some powers had prevented the Council from taking action for thirty three days against the Zionist regime, with the hope of giving it time to achieve victory.


The presence of some powers had prevented the Security Council from performing its main duty, he said.  As a result, the Security Council’s credibility had been tarnished and its efficacy in defending Member States rights had been undermined.  Other mechanisms, such as the monetary and banking mechanisms, were in the same situation.  At the same time, some powers had a disregard for morals, “divine values” and the teachings of the prophets.  How could the incompetents who could not control themselves rule humanity? he asked.  The only sustainable way to bettering mankind was through a return to the teaching of the divine prophets, monotheism and the flow of love in all relationships.  To fulfil that objective, he invited everyone to form a “front of fraternity, amity and sustainable peace” to prevent arrogance.  He announced that Iran would head down that path.  Such values should dominate the pillars of the United Nations, and the General Assembly should be considered the most important pillar of the Organization.


Turning to the nuclear issue, he said Iran was a clear example of how such a mechanism performed and the thoughts behind them.   Iran was a member of IAEA and all its nuclear activities had been completely peaceful and transparent. As a member, it had rights and obligations, particularly to stay on a peaceful path.  Members were entitled to Agency support and access to the fuel cycle.  Thus far, Iran had fulfilled all its obligations, yet had been deprived of other members’ technical assistance, as some powers had politicized the atmosphere.  After three years of negotiations, Iran concluded that the main concern of those powers was to prevent its scientific progress.  His country, therefore, decided to pursue the issue through the legal path that ran through the IAEA.  In the last two years, the Security Council had been influenced by bullying powers and had failed to protect the rights of the Iranian people.  The IAEA had recently tried to regain its legal role in supporting its members, which was a correct approach.


He advised those who had demonstrated hostility to Iran for the past five years to reform themselves and thus, the world.  Nations were inherently good and could co-exist peacefully.  Faith in God meant believing in honesty, and that was the invitation of all divine prophets from Adam and Moses to Jesus Christ and Mohammed.  Quoting from the Koran, he emphasized his hope that such an invitation would have a practical answer.  Peoples and Governments were not obliged to obey the injustice of certain powers, and he declared that the age of relations arising from World War II was over. The era of darkness would end and prisoners would return home. Palestine and Iraq would be liberated. He wished a bright future for all human beings.


SUSILO BAMBANG YUDHOYONO, President of Indonesia, spoke of global interdependence, particularly in the face of climate change.  Indonesia had suffered its effects in recent years, in the form of floods, drought, forest fires, El Niño, tsunami and earthquakes.  The principle of common and differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities must be upheld.  There was a need for action and an opportunity to strike a consensus to tackle global warming at the Bali conference.  That meeting must result in a practical road map, spelling out what must be done by both developed and developing countries to save humankind and its planet from climate change.  Mitigating climate change must be linked to sustainable development


He called for a global partnership in which developed countries ensured a sufficient flow of financing for development and the transfer of technology, while the developing world prudently managed natural and human resources, protected human rights, practiced good governance and fought corruption at all levels.  Indonesia had just launched a special leaders’ meeting of tropical rainforest countries.  Forests stored an immense volume of carbon that would otherwise pollute the atmosphere.  Efforts must be made to intensify cooperation in forest conservation and reforestation, as forests provided a source of economic wealth.  Countries seeking to enhance their carbon sinks through forestry projects should be given incentives to do so.


Indonesia was committed to the fight against poverty, and its economic development had focussed on rural areas where the majority of the population lived in a daily struggle with poverty, he said.  The country would like to attract foreign direct investment, so that the millions of unemployed might find jobs. Towards that goal, the country had been working to eradicate corruption at all levels.


He said peace in the Middle East was crucial to global stability, and he called for peace with justice for the Palestinian people.  He urged Hamas and Fatah to reconcile their agendas and for the Arab Initiative to be a catalyst for political change in the region.  He spoke of Indonesia’s long history of participation in United Nations peacekeeping efforts, dating back to 1957, and expressed the will to continue making that contribution.


Dialogue was the only way to promote effective communication among members of a global partnership, he concluded.  Dialogue would help mitigate terrorism and keep the work moving forward on climate change and sustainable development.  He also called for dialogue among faiths, cultures and civilisations and urged that the Alliance of Civilizations be fully integrated into the work of the United Nations.


MARTIN TORRIJOS, President of Panama, said that some revisions to the United Nations Charter had been successful.  Today, however, Member States were being overly slow in adapting the United Nations to new challenges.  While there was broad agreement on making the Security Council more representative and transparent, too much time was being spent on how to do that.   Panama had supported Brazil, Japan and Germany’s membership to the Council, and urged an open mind in completing that debate.   Panama had become a member of the United Nations with a feeling of responsibility vis-à-vis the international community, and was grateful for the confidence the Assembly had placed in his country.  His Government had supported efforts made to advance democratic institutions, the rule of law, and humanitarian assistance to refugees and displaced peoples, among other things.


No conflict had received greater attention than that in the Middle East, he continued, noting that the path towards peace was still elusive, with new obstacles continually arising.  The Israel-Palestinian conflict was at the heart of that situation, and Panama had encouraged talks among the parties.  Continuation of those talks would require the cessation of attacks from Gaza and achievement of an agreement on the status of Jerusalem.  Turning to Lebanon, he said the international community must realize the importance of establishing a Government of unity.  If the situation was not resolved, the country faced the risk of a return to civil war.   Panama had joined its voice with those calling for a reduction in the tension and peaceful solutions in all parts of the world, particularly as it was less costly to invest in avoiding confrontation than in stopping it.  He appealed to the United Nations to reconsider its actions in the Middle East.


Concerning the dispute between Serbia and Kosovar Albanians, he said there was cause for cautious optimism that the parties had agreed to return to negotiations.  Returning to negotiations would help ensure regional peace.  Regarding Haiti, Panama supported renewing and expanding the mandate of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).  However, matters required further efforts, as the mandate could not end until institutions were further strengthened.  He condemned violations in Myanmar, particularly the detention of Aung San Suu Kyi.


He said human rights violations of certain groups and the lack of strong institutions able to guarantee those rights were common denominators of most of the world’s conflicts.  In Africa, examples of institutional weakness played a role in conflict, he added, noting that the Security Council would meet today to discuss the Continent.  By building institutional capacity, it would be possible to return rights enshrined in the United Nations to all peoples; reaching peace depended on States’ commitment to structure the Organization. The United Nations had increased the number and quality of its peacekeeping operations in areas where peace had failed.  Those operations, however, could not be confined to simply separating rival forces; they must strengthen the concept of integrated missions that could cover a broader range of activities.  Political institutions must be re-built.


On terrorism, Panama supported United Nations efforts to combat the scourge in an integrated manner and attached high priority to the adoption of a convention on terrorism.  In other matters, he said the Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities was a major milestone, and that Panama had recently adopted the convention for indigenous peoples.  Recalling that a year ago he had promised to hold a referendum on whether to widen the Panama Canal, he said the people of Panama had approved the widening; work had begun three weeks ago and would be complete by 2014.  Reconfirming Panama’s commitment to the full respect for human rights, he concluded by saying that attempts to preserve peace without improving the conditions of peoples was a perilous endeavour.  The only peace worth keeping and defending was one with honour, justice and freedom.


HÂMID KARZAI, President of Afghanistan, spoke of his return to the General Assembly in 2002 following years of war, violence and terror, with the challenge before him of restoring security to the lives of the Afghan people and rebuilding Afghanistan into a stable democratic country.  The process was under way, with Afghans now enjoying greater access to health and education than ever before.  The child mortality rate, one of the highest in the world two years ago, had been reduced by 25 per cent.  As a result, more than 85,000 children now had the chance to live.  For the first time in 40 years, Afghanistan was about to become self-sufficient in cereal production.


He said that relative stability had also made it possible to become more regionally engaged.  Trade had grown and, as a new member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Afghanistan had the potential to connect South Asia to Central Asia and the Middle East in commerce and interaction.  Many infrastructure projects had been completed, which could be significant in the economic integration of the region.


Despite those achievements, he said, enormous challenges lay ahead, including poverty, underdevelopment, climatic hardships and the menaces of terrorism and narcotics.  The threat of terrorism in Afghanistan meant that the world’s citizens would never be safe.  Six years after the country’s liberation from the grip of international terrorists, the country continued to grapple with that threat on a daily basis.  Afghanistan had been the victim of terrorism; it was never a home grown phenomenon.  The threat could only be addressed through regional and international cooperation.  Tolerating the presence of sanctuaries and terrorist infrastructure would only broaden the scope of terrorism.


Recognizing the importance of regional cooperation, a joint Peace Council between Afghanistan and Pakistan was convened in Kabul last month, with the support of friends in the international community, he said.  It was a promising step in harnessing the support of civil societies in the common fight against terrorism and extremism.  He expected the results of the Peace Council to lead to concrete action.  He strongly condemned the use of human shields by terrorists, and emphasized the need for maximum caution on the part of international forces operating in Afghanistan, as well as the need for increased coordination with Afghan authorities to avoid civilian casualties.


He said that narcotics also seriously undermined the stability of societies.  That was the legacy of decades of misfortunes that had befallen Afghanistan.  While his Government would address the issue domestically by providing alternative livelihoods to farmers, eradicating poppy fields, and interdicting traffickers, problems beyond the borders of Afghanistan, including fighting the international drug mafia, ensuring stricter border controls and reducing demand in foreign markets, must also be addressed.


On a number of issues, he said that no country was immune from the impact of climate change, and he fully supported the Chairman’s summary presented at the conclusion of yesterday’s high-level event.  He called for the full realization of the rights of the Palestinian people, including the right to an independent State.  He also praised the adoption of the Iraqi Compact as an achievement marking Iraq’s partnership with the international community, to consolidate peace and promote social and economic development.  He thanked Afghanistan’s international partners, individual nations as well as Organizations, for their support of his country during the past six years.  The progress Afghanistan had made could never have occurred without their help.


IVAN GAŠPAROVIČ, President of Slovakia, said that, in spite of notable progress in some areas, Slovakia did not feel content with the current pace and scope of the United Nations reform process.  The Organization needed greater transformation in order to make the work of newly created structures and institutions more dynamic and to ensure the United Nations targeted prevention and solution of conflicts and problems.  There were several areas in need of improvement: the Human Rights Council, to which Slovakia sought membership for the upcoming term 2008-2011; the United Nations Secretariat, whose management system required more modernization and accountability; the Department of Peacekeeping Operations; and the Security Council, which needed to reflect the new geopolitical reality.


He said that no United Nations body, including the General Assembly itself, could evade the reform effort.  Regarding the Assembly, it had become necessary to strengthen its role and authority by focusing attention on the real and acute problems of today’s world.  The Assembly should also create mechanisms that would allow for the implementation of its decisions to be monitored and, at the same time, provide for the elimination of outdated measures.


Turning to security sector reform, the President said that insufficient or absent security sector reform often caused conflicts or their relapse.  He anticipated the comprehensive report by the Secretary-General on security sector reform, which should become the basis of a more in-depth discussion.  He also sought a revitalization in the Assembly of the discussion on disarmament and non-proliferation.  The destructive potential of weapons of mass destruction increased along with the growing threat of international terrorism.


Slovakia was also frustrated that no solution to the Kosovo problem had been found yet, he said.  Kosovo must not thwart the unification of European nations or set a negative precedent in international law.  On other pressing global matters, Slovakia endorsed the resolution granting the deployment of a joint African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur, and a peaceful, fair and permanent solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


Prince ALBERT II of Monaco thanked the Assembly President for making climate change the general theme of the session.  Last June, he had created the Prince Albert II Foundation to identify priority and symbiotic projects to combat climate change in an accelerated fashion.  The Foundation’s vision was based on three strategic principles: to act alongside nations, international institutions and opinion leaders to enhance consciousness; to promote initiatives, activities and corporate actions that combined innovation with environmental protection; and to create public understanding of environmental challenges and the responsibilities of each individual to act.


Also on the environment, the Prince said that, this year, he had agreed to sponsor an ambitious initiative launched by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), “Planet for Planet: the Billion Tree Campaign”, the objective of which was to provide for the planting of at least 1 billion trees worldwide in 2007.  The operation had met with success seven months after its launch.  That success signalled hope, but the time for more action was now.  The European Union had shown the way by committing to a 50 per cent reduction of its greenhouse gases by 2050, but Monaco urged Member States to also help developing countries by finding new financial resources and working on their own modes of production and consumption.


On United Nations reform, he urged an increased membership in the Security Council.  He, meanwhile, endorsed the creation of the new Department of Field Support to work alongside the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.  That new office would facilitate the actions between the offices at Headquarters and United Nations personnel in the field who worked to safeguard peace and security.


On sustainable development and the fight against poverty, Monaco’s Government had before it a proposal to increase the total amount of its voluntary contributions to the funds and programmes of the United Nations by 25 per cent next year.


TOOMAS HENDRIK ILVES, President of Estonia, addressed four topics: climate change, cybersecurity, conflict resolution and cooperation among international organizations.  On climate change, he said that his country had already met its obligations under the Kyoto Protocol for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, which had been cut by over 50 per cent.  He subscribed to the European Union post-2012 vision for international climate, and hoped that a new global political agreement would be ready by 2009, so that appropriate steps could be taken to implement it in a timely manner.


He offered Estonia’s overall 10 per cent annual economic growth, while reducing primary energy consumption by 2.5 per cent a year, as a model for sustainable development.  Diversification of energy supply and larger use of renewable energies was the way forward, he said.  Estonia believed development should be tied to investment in clean technologies.  UNEP could facilitate adoption of the most suitable technology and know-how in developing countries.  In recognition of the need to be better prepared to meet the challenges of more frequent natural disasters, Estonia had been increasing its contributions to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the Central Emergency Response Fund.


He raised the issue of cyberterrorism as a means by which those with limited funds could paralyse a society at a distance.  Governments should define cyberviolence as a crime to be condemned, such as terrorism or human trafficking.  The problem was not yet widespread, but could become a dangerous weapon.  Estonia had successfully coped with such an attack earlier this year and was prepared to share its acquired know-how.  He called upon all countries to accede to the Convention on Cyber Crime of the Council of Europe.


On conflict resolution, he welcomed the creation of a United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force for Darfur.  He would like to see greater United Nations involvement in Afghanistan, and highlighted the conflict in Abkhazia, Georgia as one where the United Nations should play a significant role.  He said there was no place for military intervention or provocations, internal or external, in the area, and that all interested parties should act in a constructive way.  It was essential for the international community to make coordinated efforts in use of its resources, particularly when managing crises.  He spoke of the importance of developing needs assessments and clearly delineating roles and mandates of the relevant actors in a situation.  He also spoke of the problem of forced migration caused by poverty, armed conflicts and natural disasters, and called upon the global community to take a more integrated approach to the issue.


JOSÉ EDUARDO DOS SANTOS, President of Angola, said the world was currently confronted with many different challenges: global warming and climate change; terrorism and the use of religion for political ends; and growing militarism in response to terrorist acts.  Those challenges widened the gap between rich and poor and increased social tension around the world.  On terrorism, he called for deeper study and analysis to achieve a broad consensus on the collective responses needed to counter the threat.  Though Islam could co-exist peacefully in societies with other religious beliefs, Islamic fanaticism should be neutralized and the model of a secular State should be maintained.  Military action to fight terrorism should be a last resort.  In its place should be an ongoing dialogue among the various cultures and religions.


To reduce global poverty and social inequalities, he proposed higher and fairer payment for commodities and natural resources extracted from developing countries, as well as more technical assistance to support the poorest nations.  To accomplish those tasks, the global economy must be regulated, in order to “mitigate the asymmetries between the centre and the periphery of the economic system and to ensure that each person has the necessary means for survival with dignity”.   Environmental matters should also be regulated, he said.  In the past, countries had developed into industrialized nations without paying due attention to the protection of the environment.  Today, that trend was continuing.  He welcomed the initiative of the Secretary-General to call yesterday’s high-level event on climate change and urged the approval and implementation of the Global Plan of Environmental Protection.


On the situation in his country, he said it was moving towards “complete normalization of its political, economic and social life”.  It was signatory to all international protocols on environmental protection and had actively contributed to conflict resolution and peacebuilding in its region.  He supported international peacebuilding in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone, and held hope that the United Nations could help find peaceful solutions to the conflicts in the Sudan and between Ethiopia and Eritrea.


The achievement of the Millennium Development Goals would help Africa align itself with the growth rate of the world economy, he said.  Fairer trade with developed countries, foreign debt relief and greater fluidity in the transfer of capital and developmental aid would help poorer nations achieve those Goals.  Finally, he called for United Nations reform, so that it would be more representative of its Member States.  Despite the call for reform, he said the United Nations remained the only international organization with the “prestige and credibility” to resolve the many challenges present in the world today, such as global disarmament, a peaceful solution to the conflicts in Middle East and the frequently debated question of the trade embargo against Cuba.


ROMANO PRODI, Prime Minister of Italy, said a decisive moment had been reached on a resolution for a universal moratorium on the death penalty with a view towards its complete abolition.  It would be a great political act if the General Assembly were to adopt such a resolution.  It would demonstrate that humankind could make progress, not only in science, but also in ethics; it would also free society from the spiral of revenge.


Turning to the issue of Lebanon, he said the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) had been under Italian command for several months.  Lebanon had yet to solve its problems, as brutal attacks in recent days had shown, but it was in a better situation, and its reconciliation process had to be supported.  The root causes of conflicts in the Middle East, first and foremost the Palestinian question, could not be ignored; restoring peace in the region was the top priority of the international community.  Italy was ready to provide its input into the international meeting on the Middle East peace process promoted by the United States.


Italy considered climate change a priority issue, he said.  It had been among European supporters of a unilateral 20 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.  Regarding the future of the United Nations, an organization capable of renewal and adaptation was needed.  The central position of the General Assembly had to be restored.  Reforming the Security Council meant addressing its central role as the paramount source of international legitimacy.  It was a source of delight that the General Assembly had decided to make every effort, through intergovernmental negotiations, to reach a general agreement on Security Council reform.  The United Nations had a responsibility to keep development atop the international agenda; Italy would make development the centrepiece of its presidency of the Group of Eight in 2009.  The principle and values of the United Nations were beacons and stars, making it possible to navigate even by night and in rough waters.  Staying the course was a moral, not just political, imperative.


ANGELA MERKEL, Chancellor of Germany, noting that the world was experiencing a period of dramatic change, said great opportunities were accompanied by considerable risks: global structures were changing and States were becoming networked as never before.  That “globalization” meant that prosperity was increasing.  The challenge, however, lay in the fact that not everyone had their fair share of it.  There were considerable imbalances, and a global awareness beyond national boundaries was needed to master major challenges, including climate change.  Never before had the need for action been so indisputable, and no country could tackle the issue alone, which meant that any contribution from individual or group of States was welcome.


She said the General Assembly session must set the course for the vital next step: the Climate Conference in Bali.  The guiding principle for halving global emissions by mid-century was that of common but differentiated responsibility, and industrialized countries must embrace ambitious absolute reduction targets.  During the German presidency, the European Union had adopted bold targets for 2020.  Emerging economies must decouple economic growth from emissions, as per capita emissions in both industrialized and emerging economies must converge in the long term at a level compatible with the global climate protection target.


Three principles were of crucial importance for a common future, she said, stressing first that economic strength and social responsibility belonged together.  That principle applied both to how States treated their citizens and treated each other.  It upheld cohesion while it categorically rejected isolationism, which was why her Government was seeking a balanced and comprehensive agreement on multilateral trade.  She called for a successful conclusion to the Doha Round of talks.  She also called for transparent financial markets, effective protection of intellectual property, as well as minimum legal and social standards.  Germany stood by its pledge to commit 0.7 per cent of its gross domestic product to official development assistance no later than 2015.  Genuine partnership placed all sides under an obligation to step up efforts to fight corruption and better protect human rights.  Germany wished to support Africa in particular, she said, noting there had been serious setbacks in Zimbabwe.


She called for strengthening the effectiveness of the United Nations, as it was the place where binding joint responses to global challenges could be found.  Reform was needed, particularly in the Security Council, which must develop universally binding proposals quickly.  To do that, it must have international legitimacy; however, the present composition no longer reflected today’s world.  Germany was prepared to assume more responsibility and take on a permanent seat on the Council.


Noting that the United Nations reform process had produced some results, including establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission, she said numerous crises persisted and could only be solved multilaterally.  Unity of purpose was needed, particularly with respect to Iran, which had continuously worked on its nuclear programme in clear contradiction of the United Nations.  The country was ignoring Security Council resolutions and blatantly threatening Israel.  The consequences of Iran acquiring a nuclear bomb were disastrous for Israel and, ultimately, for the world, and it was up to Iran to convince the world it was not striving towards such a bomb.  Germany would shoulder its responsibility for the existence of Israel, and seek a diplomatic solution.  It would also firmly advocate additional sanctions on Iran if it did not “come around”.


Unity of purpose was also vital for ensuring a peaceful future in Kosovo, and Germany also strongly supported the efforts of the Middle East Quartet.


She called for strengthening shared immutable values, as the twenty-first century faced a great danger that conflicts could give rise to a “clash of civilizations”.  A human tragedy was being played out in Darfur and too much time had been squandered.  On Myanmar, she urged that Government not to use force against peaceful demonstrations.  Regarding Lebanon, the Hariri Tribunal must start work quickly, and she called on Syria to grant Lebanon diplomatic recognition.


In conclusion, she said the United Nations Charter was an unshakable foundation for asserting shared values of freedom and democracy, and Germany looked forward to fruitful cooperation with all partners in the Organization.


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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.