29 September 2009

Decrying Economic System, Which Promotes ‘Hoarding of Wealth by the Few,’ Speakers from Developing Countries Demand More Input into Global Decision-Making

29 September 2009
General Assembly
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-fourth General Assembly


13th Meeting (AM)

Decrying Economic System, Which Promotes ‘Hoarding of Wealth by the Few,’ Speakers

from Developing Countries Demand More Input into Global Decision-Making

General Assembly President Closes Annual Debate Pledging to Work

With Member States towards Renewed Commitment to Promoting Inclusive Multilateralism

No longer satisfied with a power balance that favoured the few but risked imperilling the many in another economic tailspin, world leaders addressing the General Assembly today appealed for a new brand of multilateralism that reflected developing nations’ concerns in global decision-making, as they wrapped up the annual general debate.

The week-long debate heard 192 speakers, including 107 Heads of State and Government, who took the floor tooutline national objectives and forcefully call for a more equitable “power equation”, both within the Organization and on a host of issues:  from restructuring the global financial architecture to strengthening food security, concluding the protracted Doha Round of world trade talks, and reviving the disarmament agenda, to name a few.

“I am heartened that inside this hall -– as well as outside -– in the various meetings and events on the sidelines, there was a renewed commitment to promoting an effective and inclusive multilateralism,” said General Assembly President Ali Abdussalam Treki, in his closing remarks.

Indeed, the Assembly was uniquely placed to forge collective strategies for the common good, he continued.  Throughout the week, the world body heard calls for dialogue and a willingness to act together, notably on climate change, an issue that had sent ripple effects across the global economy in the areas of health, food production, and peace and security.  He had detected a readiness among States to agree on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and make the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen a success.

Similarly, there had been broad agreement on the need for a collective response to an unprecedented global financial crisis, he said, which included ideas for making the Bretton Woods institutions more inclusive and transparent.  On disarmament, broad concern at the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction had been punctuated with appeals for a nuclear-weapon-free world.  Among the strongest calls were those urging the comprehensive reform of the United Nations, whose Security Council had to be made more democratic, open and, thus, legitimate.

“We can collectively achieve all these goals,” Mr. Treki declared, assuring delegates that he would conduct such work with transparency and respect for the General Assembly’s central role in the United Nations.

Among the 16 delegations taking the floor today, Samuel Santos López, Nicaragua’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, agreed, saying economic policies should be decided within the most representative institution -- not within groups such as the Group of Eight (G-8) and Group of Twenty (G-20), which championed an economic system that promoted the subjugation of nations and the “hoarding of wealth by the few”.  Citing Nicaragua’s national experience, he spoke of an alternative development model that transformed the structures of poverty and marginalization that were breeding grounds of public safety problems.  “Our model is based on democratic reform, expressed in popular will, which we call ‘Citizen Power’”, he said.

For Samuel Abal, Papua New Guinea’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Immigration, concern at the growing number of global conflicts was heightened by illicit trade and use of small arms and light weapons.  That situation continued to cause untold suffering to millions around the world and Papua New Guinea was no exception.  Global debate on small arms had focused on curbing the use of such weapons, but the supply side of the issue had never been comprehensively discussed.  As such, Papua New Guinea supported the proposed comprehensive Arms Trade Treaty which would address a key element in the arms issue.

Adding to that, Togo’s representative said terrorism was a scourge that had to be fought through better, universalized, international legal measures.  The illegal flow of drugs along the West African coastline posed a real threat and destabilized the region.  Given the scope of the scourge, one country alone could not eradicate it.  Togo thus called for international support to help restore a secure climate that was vital for development to prevail.  Despite its limited resources, Togo had been ruthless in weeding out the plague of drug traffickers, with neighbouring support, he added.

“No more will we depend on just a few industrialized nations to solve the world’s economic problems,” said Hassan Wirajuda, Indonesia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, adding that, through the G-20, developing nations would be heard.  Influence in that new power distribution should be replicated in bodies like the Security Council.  A throwback to life at the end of the Second World War, the Council was paralysed by an undemocratic composition and veto system that could no longer guarantee collective security.  It had to become more democratic, accountable.  In reforming the Council –- and global economic governance –- States had to realize that prosperity without democracy was but a bubble.

Lifting peoples’ living standards also meant relentlessly tackling HIV/AIDS, said Botswana’s representative.  The global economic crisis had placed people living with HIV/AIDS at greater risk, as budget constraints had prompted cuts in health programmes.  It was essential that Governments move toward the 2010 goal of achieving universal access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment care and support.  Botswana was committed to combating the devastating pandemic and had attended the midterm review last year on the status of implementation of the 2001 Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS.

Also speaking today were the Foreign Affairs Ministers of Grenada and Norway.

The representatives of Djibouti, Cape Verde, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Moldova, Greece, Denmark, Seychelles, Togo and Mali also addressed the Assembly.

The Permanent Observer of the Holy See also spoke.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. Tuesday, 6 October, to take up the Secretary-General’s report on the work of the Organization.


The General Assembly met today to continue and conclude its general debate.


PETER DAVID, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Grenada, said the United Nations was the best place to face the numerous challenges of today’s world.  “We cannot respond to one challenge and choose to ignore another, because all are interconnected,” he said, adding:  “Indeed, working together is the raison d’être, the essence of ‘united’ in United Nations.”  Climate change remained at the top of the global agenda but for small island States, the threat was particularly pronounced, he said.  He called on the international community to support the most vulnerable and encouraged States to reach the targets set out for the upcoming Copenhagen Summit on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

With respect to the global economic and financial crisis, he said that his country has pursued sustainable economic development that included revitalizing the agricultural sector, increasing labour productivity, diversifying the export services sector, strengthening the national investment environment and modernizing their tax system.  He added that Grenada sought partnerships with the international community and the United Nations system.  Towards achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, Grenada had reduced violence against women, thereby increasing primary school enrolment, and had improved access to antiretroviral drugs for people with HIV/AIDS.

As to security, he said that there was a need for more intervention to stop drug trafficking and small arms proliferation, which he said was as lethal as nuclear weapons.  On the situation in Honduras, he called for the immediate restoration of President José Manuel Zelaya.  Concerning Cuba, he called for an end to the United States embargo.  He also called for a resolution to the long‑standing Palestinian-Israeli and wider Middle East conflict.  Finally, he said his country supported United Nations reform, particularly with regard to the Security Council.  “ Grenada is proud to continue playing its role at the United Nations,” he said.  “We support the pursuit of international peace and security, the rule of law, the fight against terrorism, and the eradication of poverty and the promotion of human rights.”

SAMUEL ABAL, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Immigration of Papua New Guinea, said his country firmly believed that strengthening international peace and security was fundamental to achieving human development, progress and prosperity.  Papua New Guinea denounced weapons of mass destruction and was fully committed to the principle of a world free of such weapons.  To that end, it was a State party to the South Pacific Nuclear-Free-Zone Treaty and was supportive of the South-East Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone.  Papua New Guinea was now working earnestly towards early ratification of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.  It also looked forward to contributing constructively to the United Nations peacekeeping operations.

A continuing major concern for Papua New Guinea was the increase in global conflicts heightened by illicit trade and use of small arms and light weapons, he continued.  That situation continued to cause untold suffering to millions around the world, and Papua New Guinea was no exception.  Global debate on small arms had focused on curbing the use of such weapons, but the supply side of the issue had never been comprehensively discussed.

Papua New Guinea, therefore, supported the proposed Arms Trade Treaty which was still under negotiation and which would deal with one of the key elements in the arms issue.  He stressed that small arms and light weapons threatened communities in his country.  The Government had prioritized the need to comprehensively address that issue through commissioning a 2005 National Gun Summit Report which would be implemented soon.

Turning to the various global crises, he expressed strong support for calls to reform the international financial architecture to include major developing countries like China and India.  Such reforms would better reflect today’s global economic realities and provide effective management of the global process which needed to be fair, equitable and transparent.

Achieving the Millennium Development Goals remained an integral development priority of the Government, he continued.  Those Goals had been incorporated into Papua New Guinea’s medium-term development strategy, focusing on 15 national targets and 67 indicators under a national road map.  Those targets and indicators had been specifically designed to reflect the country’s stage of development.  A joint Millennium Development Goals project was launched in 2008 along with a National Steering Committee made up of representatives of the Government, the United Nations, academia and civil society.  It was mandated to build national awareness and to facilitate a strong data collection and analysis regime in the country.

SAMUEL SANTOS LÓPEZ, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nicaragua , said that although his country had been impoverished by historical circumstances like so many others within Latin America and the Caribbean, it had remained a land of beauty and natural resources and, indeed, was symbolic of reconciliation and national and international unity.

The country is one of the safest in the continent and it permanently and decisively combated organized crime, not only with coercive and punitive measures, but with an alternative model of development that transformed the structures of poverty and marginalization that were the breeding ground of public safety problems.  He said: “Our model is based on democratic reform, expressed in popular will which we call ‘Citizen Power’.”

He noted several of his country’s successful development-oriented campaigns, including the “From Marti to Fidel” initiative, which had reduced illiteracy to slightly over 3 per cent.  He also noted a strategy dealing with the H1N1 virus that had controlled the virus’ spread, as well as a nutrition programme that had been selected by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as one of the top four in the world.  In addition, President Daniel Ortega had proposed a Central American Agriculture Policy that would transform the region into a food-production zone.  Clean drinking water had been made available to 217,000 families and programmes such as “Zero Hunger” and “Zero Usury” were launched.

Turning to energy issues, he mentioned the country now had a reserve of electrical power of almost 43 per cent, whereas two years ago it was negative by 3.2 per cent.  Nicaragua had made efforts to promote the use of alternative energy sources and supported initiatives aimed at developing civilian nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  He mentioned the urgency of climate change, and the need for Copenhagen to be a place to act and not simply debate and called for a true commitment to counteract the harmful effects of global warming.

On regional issues, he said Nicaragua embraced the cause of Puerto Rico’s independence, as well as the return of the Malvinas Islands to their rightful owner.  Moving on to the issues of the economy, he mentioned that unfortunately the global financial crisis came upon the heels of decreased official development assistance (ODA), which was still made conditional by international financial institutions.  There was reluctance by developed countries to replace the present model with one that was more just.

He said economic policies should be decided within the most representative institution, not within groups such as the Group of Eight and G-20, which were “promoters of the model of domination by the few over the majority, a model which is characterized by exclusion”.  In addition, it was not possible to put a kind face on perversion, or on arrogance;  that was the essence of the prevailing economic system, which promoted “the exploitation of one human by another, the subjugation of nations, the hoarding of wealth by the few.  This is why we are in the crisis, not due to lack of resources.”

JONAS GAHR STØRE, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway, said that this was a moment for all to seize.  “The new tone of voice we have heard from the United States […] is setting forceful persuasion above persuasive force and extending a hand to those who are willing to unclench a fist,” he said.  The challenges ahead for the international community included crises of finances, food, energy, climate and health, and required collective action, he said.  On climate change, he said the large, developed countries should commit themselves to measurable, reportable and verifiable actions.

Turning next to the global economic and financial crisis, he said that it had negatively affected the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals.  To counter that, Norway had increased its official development assistance in absolute terms after the financial crisis hit, “to show solidarity with those who are less fortunate than we are”.  Norway had also tripled its health-related contributions since 2000 and millions of lives had been saved. 

Maternal health, however, remained a particular concern, he said, and reducing mother and child mortality was pivotal, he said, adding that there had been an appalling rise of rape and other forms of sexual violence that “reveal an ugly story of men around the world still regarding women and children as secondary citizens”.  To give women the services and rights that men take for granted, was a matter of vital importance, he said.

On security, he said the international community should continue to support the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), and that, in terms of nuclear disarmament, the Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty next year had to set a clear and specific agenda for the eradication of nuclear arsenals.  Regarding Iran, he said that Iran itself should remove the doubts surrounding its nuclear ambitions. 

Beyond nuclear weapons, he said that small arms, cluster munitions and landmines were responsible for actual destruction of mass proportions, and he urged all States to accede to the Convention on Cluster Munitions and to try to control the small arms trade.  Finally, he said that Norway had been elected to the Human Rights Council and that, last week, the country had submitted its first report on the human rights situation in Norway to take a critical look at its record and invite constructive criticism “as we believe all States should welcome similar constructive criticism of their own records”.

HASSAN WIRAJUDA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, said the Assembly was meeting amid intertwined crises, the most urgent of which was the current economic and financial turmoil, which had put millions out of work and pushed more than 100 million people below the poverty line.  “No more will we depend on just a few industrialized nations to solve the world’s economic problems,” he said, adding that, through the G-20, the developing world would be heard in international decision-making.  Indeed, the world was building a new and constructive “power equation”, whose distribution of influence should be replicated in other bodies, including the Security Council.

Also, financial institutions and instruments would need to be regulated, and Indonesia was working within the G-20 to reform the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and multilateral development banks, which must deliver concessional financing without conditions to low-income countries.  He said that such efforts had set refreshing precedents in terms of access to financial resources and transparency.  Climate change, and food and energy security were problems that fed on one another, and they had come about through a failure to form an effective international partnership to address a large bundle of challenges.

At its root, the current international situation had been set in motion by a failure of multilateralism.  That failure could be rectified, he said, notably in Copenhagen this December, as States came together to reach consensus on a new climate accord.  As the host country to the 2007 Bali Conference on Climate Change, Indonesia fervently hoped the upcoming meeting would yield a new framework to strengthen the Kyoto Protocol.  That framework must stipulate deep emissions cuts, financing for adaptation and mitigation, and a priority role for forests.  In that context, he noted the Indonesia Forest Carbon Partnership.

Turning to food security, he said Indonesia’s investment in agriculture had led to a surplus in rice production, to be allotted for both buffering national stocks and contributing to global food security.  Through similar reform, a global partnership for energy security had a better chance of making a technology breakthrough that would increase fuel-burning efficiencies.  With a new spirit of multilateralism, the impasse in the Doha Round of world trade talks could be broken in 2010, and protectionist barriers –- rising again amid fears sparked by the economic crisis –- torn down.  Such efforts should also bring about the fulfilment of the 2002 Monterrey Consensus.

In addition, he said there was no reason why that spirit of reform could not resuscitate the disarmament agenda.  In a truly democratic world order, nuclear Powers would live by their commitment to the Non-Proliferation Treaty by slashing arsenals and abiding by the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.  In turn, non‑nuclear countries would continue to refrain from building nuclear weapons.  A window of opportunity had been opened with the adoption of Security Council resolution 1887 (2009) and process between the United States and the Russian Federation to cut arsenals.

Regarding United Nations reform, he called the Security Council a “throwback to the world at the end of the Second World War” paralysed by an undemocratic composition and veto system that could no longer guarantee collective security.  The 15-member body had to become more democratic, transparent and accountable.   Indonesia was a great believer in democratic reform, which had saved the country from being totally crushed by the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

Continuing, he said Indonesia had transitioned from a highly centralized, authoritarian regime to a decentralized, fully democratic system, and since 2004, had fine-tuned its reforms.  A second wave of reform would allow it to become a developed nation by 2025.  As the world’s third-largest democracy, Indonesia hoped that the world, as it reformed economic governance, would understand that “prosperity without democracy is but a bubble”, and that democracy that did not deliver development would not endure.

ROBLE OLHAYE ( Djibouti) said the current financial and economic turmoil had reached the shores of Africa and compounded the continent’s difficulties.  Poor countries had no choice but to work hard to restore growth and recover lost ground in order to reach internationally agreed development goals.  He emphasized that the global crisis could not be an excuse to avoid existing international aid commitments.

Turning to the tense standoff with Eritrean forces in the north of Djibouti, he said the Security Council had consistently condemned Eritrea’s forceful occupation of his country’s territory, Ras Doumeira and Doumeira Island, and in Council resolution 1862 (2009), had demanded, among other things, that Eritrea withdraw it forces and military hardware to locations prior to the standoff. 

Eritrea had rejected the resolution and the matter had essentially remained the same, he continued.  The militarization of that key strategic Red Sea maritime route did not auger well for peace in the region or for international shipping and investment.  The dispute between Eritrea and Djibouti must not be allowed to fester any longer, he said urging the Council to act with all means at its disposal.

Turning to the situation in Somalia, he said the capital, Mogadishu, was essentially a “war zone” and most of the civilian population had been displaced.  Civilians were also enduring horrendous collateral damage.  African Union peacekeepers had kept the Transitional Government in power, but they were continuously under attack and the need for more troops could not be overemphasized, including the training and equipping of Somali forces.  He urged all well-meaning Somalis, as well as people and Governments of goodwill everywhere, to act to create a lasting and stable environment for the Somali people.

Djibouti was eager that peace and security would be restored in the northern part of the Yemen, within the framework of its territorial integrity, sovereignty and unity.  On the issue of Council reform, he said Africa, the continent with the largest number of countries, needed to have a permanent voice in the conduct of world affairs.  Specifically, Africa must have no fewer than two permanent seats with all the prerogatives and privileges of permanent membership in the Council, including the right of veto;  and five non-permanent seats.  The recent global crises underscored the urgency for Africa’s meaningful involvement in the United Nations and world affairs.

ANTONIO PEDRO MONTEIRO LIMA ( Cape Verde) expressed “unequivocal disdain” for the violence in neighbouring Guinea, and then paid tribute to the victims of the “odious act”, which threatened stability within the region.  Peace and security were essential to the progress of humanity, he declared, and said that those two principles had never been threatened the way they were today.

Cape Verde was greatly concerned by threats such as terrorism, human trafficking, weapons proliferation, and drugs, all of which threatened the foundation of the democratic rule of law, and undermined the legitimate wishes of the people.  They also harmed development efforts and thus, what was needed was a “fair-balanced multilateral perspective” to help.

Continuing, he said organized crime was becoming a problem in Cape Verde, which was “fertile ground” for the spread of such activity because it was an emerging democracy with a fragile economy.  His country was unable to deal with the problem alone, and he called for a deploying of joint capabilities.  Cape Verde would not allow itself to be poor and unstable and the key would be to diversify partnerships, and use multilateralism to combat challenges.

He noted efforts to establish a Zone of Peace in the South Atlantic, and said such an arrangement was important if countries in that region were to ensure progress and peace, as well as to reach the Millennium Development Goals.  He mentioned a likelihood that the Goals might not be reached because of the financial crisis, especially in light of a decline in global gross domestic product (GDP), and an increase in poverty, unemployment, malnutrition and the cost of goods.  He urged international partners to develop joint efforts especially for developing countries to become more inclusive, in order to avoid an unprecedented human crisis.

He affirmed the urgent need to tackle climate change and noted the success of the Secretary-General’s Climate Change Summit last week.  If the world did not act now, it might be too late to avoid serious harm being done to the planet.  Participants at the Summit had been convinced there was no more time for evasion and that the moment for action was now.  For example, coastal regions and small island nations faced serious risks, and Cape Verde, for its part, was coping with desertification and water shortages.

He said Cape Verde had made efforts to take the most advantage of river basins, saving water and using modern technology, especially in irrigation.  There was an active policy which helped the local agricultural sector.  In addition, research and development for renewable energies was under way.  The international community must do all it could to help small island nations, especially since forced migration due to climate change was a serious concern.  He reiterated the importance of the ocean and the need to preserve it as a unique repository.

CAMILLO GONSALVES ( Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) said there was an issue under all the other current challenges:  “A struggle by the powerful to cling to their dominion, long after the legitimate bases of their power have faded.”  He went on to criticize the Security Council, the Bretton Woods institutions and the blockade on Cuba.  Noting that the G-20 suffered from a lack of legitimacy, he said the geopolitical status quo remained.  “Although we have a seat in this hallowed building, it is often the seat of a spectator in a historical drama.”  On the subject of the global economic and financial crisis, his country suffered from its consequences, although it had played no part in its creation. 

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines faced three threats:  globalization; climate change; and stigmatisation, he continued.  The World Trade Organization (WTO) had destroyed the country’s trade in bananas; changing weather patterns threatened tourism; and the G-20, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and other organizations discriminated against the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines when they claimed to be rooting out so-called “tax havens”.  Another menace was the illicit trade in firearms and narcotics.  His country, which produced neither a gun nor a kilo of cocaine, was awash in weapons and drugs, he said.

The citizens of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines would soon vote on a new constitution to transform the country into an independent republic, he announced, before turning to the subject of international relations.  It was necessary for multilateral cooperation to be inclusive and participatory and, to that end, poor and developing countries were urged to help remake the United Nations.  The global economic and financial crisis, poverty and development weren’t academic issues; climate change wasn’t theoretic and United Nations reform wasn’t a “diplomatic parlour game”, he said, and concluded:  “We stand now in the autumn of our discontent.  But, as Gandhi said, ‘healthy discontent is the prelude to progress’.”

ALEXANDRU CUJBA ( Republic of Moldova) said a reformed, robust and effective United Nations was needed to deliver prompt reactions and sustainable responses to today’s global challenges.  Moldova supported the ongoing process of reform of the Organization, and he said the expansion of the Security Council was a matter of equity and efficiency.  That body must reflect the legitimate aspirations of regional groups, and it was also necessary to allocate an additional non-permanent seat for the Eastern European group.

Regarding the global financial crisis, he said his country’s previous communist Government in Chisinau, the capital, had denied the crisis’ existence during 2008.  It was only after the previous Government’s defeat in July elections that officials began to sound the alarm.  The current Administration, the Alliance for European Integration, had assumed the responsibility for managing the crisis by taking several actions, including attracting funds from international financial organizations, securing foreign investment, and reviving the real sector of the economy.  It also relied on the support of European institutions and international structures to promote the rule of law, safeguard human rights, and ensure democratic institutions functioned.

With respect to the peaceful resolution of conflicts, Moldova believed that the demilitarization and democratization of the Transnistrian region was indispensable for a viable solution to the Transnistrian problem.  The new liberal democratic governance coalition planned to take measures to identify a solution to that problem in the current 5+2 format.  Moldova would revive its efforts to withdraw foreign troops from the country, replace the present peacekeeping operations with a multinational mission and integrate the country in all socio‑economic areas.  The Government appreciated the activity of the European Union Border Assistance Mission on the Moldovan-Ukrainian border and its close cooperation with relevant bodies of both States in charge of border management.

On the issue of terrorism, Moldova fully supported and participated in the global fight against that scourge, he said.  It implemented measures at the national level and complied with international instruments, such as the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.  It was dedicated to finalizing the talks on the comprehensive convention on international terrorism and organizing, under the United Nations auspices, a high-level conference on terrorism.

European integration was a major goal of Moldova’s foreign and internal policies and it welcomed positive developments in European Union-Moldova relations, especially after the victory of the Alliance for European Integration in the parliamentary elections in July 2009.  The new Government would rehabilitate the country’s image in the international arena and negotiate for a new association agreement with the European Union.  Its leaders were firmly committed to reforming the country’s socio-economic system and democratic process had been resumed.  He counted on the support and opportunities offered by the United Nations and its Member States to promote the country’s political and socio‑economic objectives, its integration aspirations with Europe, and to resolve the Transnistrian problem and withdrawal of foreign troops.

ANASTASSIS MITSIALIS ( Greece) said that the annual gathering at the Assembly was important, but not enough.  “What is needed first and foremost is political will –- will to turn words into deeds,” he said, adding that the international community was at a critical juncture.  The planet was in a state of environmental emergency, the socio-economic effects of which could dwarf the current economic and financial crisis. 

He said the upcoming United Nations Conference in Copenhagen would be the litmus test of each country’s commitment to an ambitious, all-inclusive climate change agreement.  Greece had shown its commitment by supporting the most vulnerable countries’ adaptation to climate change with €21 million through the end of 2011.  Humanitarian and development aid, however, had to be streamlined to be more effective and productive, he said.

With respect to migration, he said that currently some 192 million people were being forced from the lands of their birth, and almost 1 million people have been arrested since 2000 while trying to cross from Turkey to Greece, in a quest for a better life.  The international community should work together to find solutions to that problem, as well as to the problem of human trafficking.  On the subject of human rights, he said that Greece has submitted its candidacy to the Human Rights Council and that women’s rights needed special attention.

Concerning security, he said that Greece was the Chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and, in that capacity, had aimed to build consensus and achieve collective solutions to long-standing conflicts.  The most significant achievement, he said, was the launch of the Corfu Process, a debate on the future of Europe’s security. 

In the region, Greece had sought cooperation on a number of issues, but he added that long-standing disputes persist, among them one over the issue of the name of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.  Regrettably, no substantive or tangible progress had so far been achieved, despite the fact that Greece had taken “huge steps towards compromise”.   Greece had accepted the use of the term “ Macedonia” along with a geographical qualifier that reflected reality

In terms of Cyprus, he said that issue was still “an open wound at the very heart of Europe”.  A new round of talks had started under the auspices of the United Nations, but Greece opposed artificial deadlines, strict time frames and threats of a permanent division.  The current situation, he said, was unacceptable, but Turkey held the key to the solution.   Greece, for its part, was probably the most sincere supporter of that country’s inclusion in the European Union.  Despite Greek investment in rapprochement, Turkish jet fighters kept flying low over Greek-island homes and the Turkish Parliament maintained a threat of war against Greece.  “We need the leadership of the United Nations if we are to carry out our ultimate mission:  safeguarding the dignity, lives and freedoms of the citizens we represent,” he said.

CARSTEN STAUR ( Denmark) said the world needs the United Nations to “provide global answers to global challenges”, such as climate change.  The international community must act now to avoid potentially disastrous changes in the global climate, he said, and called for an agreement at the upcoming United Nations Climate Meeting in Copenhagen.  Such an accord must include a common goal for a significant reduction in CO2 emissions, a road to achieve those targets and the policies and measures to sustain them. 

He went on to say that economic growth and checking climate change were not incompatible goals, as evidenced by the “green economy” of his own country.  He also reminded the Assembly of the security risks associated with climate change and welcomed the recent report of the United Nations Secretary-General on the issue.  On the subject of Millennium Development Goals, it was imperative that all donors delivered on aid commitments, particularly in light of the global economic and financial crisis.  Moreover, next year’s Summit on the Goals offered an opportunity to consider how they could be attained more expediently. 

On peace and security matters, he said the international community should hold the Government in Afghanistan accountable while helping build its capacity.  In Pakistan, the international community should help with the creation of a stable, democratic and prosperous State, as such a move would further peace and development in the region.  He also noted the need for a comprehensive and speedy implementation of the Malakand strategy.  With regard to the Middle East, all parties should honour the Road Map.  Also, Denmark favoured expanding the diplomatic Quartet on the Middle East peace process with a regional dimension and that Syrian and Lebanese peace tracks should become a permanent Quartet agenda item.

Pirates operating off the coast of Somalia and other places presented a new type of challenge, which Denmark had taken the lead in trying to solve by identifying legal and practical solutions.  Finally, he called for reform of the Security Council and an overhaul of security assessments and procedures within peacekeeping operations.  “This Organization holds great legitimacy and moral force, and we encourage the United Nations –- Member States, as well as the entire organizational system –- to seize the moment and take the lead in addressing the new global challenges,” he said.

RONALD JUMEAU ( Seychelles) delivered his statement on behalf of President James Michel, and said that with a population of just over 85,000, the Seychelles was painfully aware of its vulnerability as a nation at the mercy of global tides.  This vulnerability was marked by economic and other crises and the increasingly destructive effects of climate change.  The country’s inherent vulnerabilities and economic imbalances meant it had to face the crises earlier than other countries.  Thus, it had arranged a standby deal with the IMF and was discussing debt re‑scheduling through the Paris Club.  This process marked a milestone in the relationship between multilateral financial institutions and a small island developing State.  It had proved that the instruments of the global economy could be adapted to meet the needs of a smaller partner.  It was an example of a responsibility shared.  “Through shared responsibility, a crisis can be contained,” he said.

Turning to the unrest in Somalia, he said the conflict had spread beyond its borders to piracy on the high seas.   Seychelles was directly affected, as pirates lay siege to the yachting, tourism and fishing industries of the western Indian Ocean.  The long-term impact was much wider, since as insurance costs increased for shipping, the costs of transporting essential goods also escalated.  While noting other States’ role in fighting piracy, he urged the international community to take additional actions, such as strengthening the rule of law in Somalia.  Other actions included expanded coordination and sharing of information among States in the region, and the use of sufficient military force in the region to deter the pirates.

Nowhere was shared responsibility more needed than in protecting and nurturing the planet’s shared environment, he said.  In small island developing States, preservation of the environment was about the economy and survival.  The international response had been inadequate so far, and there was no clear agreement weeks from Copenhagen.  The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) would call for measures needed for its survival, including a peak in global green house gas emissions by 2015 and a subsequent decline, and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by more than 85 percent by 2050.

Seychelles lauded the United Nations for its contribution to advancing the world’s understanding of how climate change was damaging the planet.  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had shown that climate change was a disaster waiting to happen.  It was the international community’s duty and responsibility to prevent it.

KODJO MENAN ( Togo) reaffirmed his country’s commitment to peace, security and development, all of which were at the core of the work of the United Nations.  Togo was a part of the Organization’s recent initiatives to mobilize global support for economic, social and cultural change.  He said political, administrative and economic governance was crucial to attaining peace and security, and, without a shadow of a doubt, to speeding up achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

However, sustainable development would not be possible without a climate of peace and national cohesion, he warned.  In that regard, since 2006, the Government of Togo had taken measures to promote democracy and reinforce poverty reduction programmes.  Global agreements and agreements with the European Union had allowed the country to carry out free and democratic legislative elections in 2007.  Togo had also taken steps towards constitutional reform, namely within the National Commission for Human Rights.

Continuing, he said there had been huge initiatives to revamp the judiciary sector in order to bring the administration and the people closer together.  Government measures to ensure freedom of expression demonstrated this.  As a mark of respect for human rights the Government had also put forward a bill to abolish the death penalty, which was adopted in June 2009.

The Government had also taken measures to improve the health and education sector, having earmarked significant funds towards health reforms for 2009-2013.  To revive a deteriorating, cash-strapped education sector, it had committed to putting in place a plan to allow the country to integrate a fast track “education for all” plan by 2010.  In terms of economic reform, Togo had taken appropriate steps to streamline public spending and to create a favourable climate for business and foreign investment.  He took the opportunity to call on bilateral and multilateral partners to help Togo get its social and economic plans off the ground.

He said terrorism, which hindered peace and sustainable development, was a scourge that had to be fought through better, universalized, international legal measures.  The illegal flow of drugs along the West African coastline posed a real threat and destabilized the region.  Given the scope of the scourge, one country alone could not eradicate it.  Togo thus called for international support to help restore a secure climate that was vital for development to prevail.  Despite its limited resources, Togo had been ruthless in weeding out the plague of drug traffickers, with neighbouring support.

Two decades of economic stagnation had caused new challenges, namely food, financial and environmental crises.  To alleviate the effects of the financial shock, it was necessary to put in place policies that would increase agricultural and energetic production among developing countries.  To quell the resurgence of such crises, he urged for a joint global initiative to consider restructuring the economic system.  In that regard, he praised the G-20 pledge to boost global business, by earmarking $50 billion for Africa from 2009-2011, as well as the African Development Bank’s initiative to fund businesses in Africa with more than $500 million.

OUMAR DAOU ( Mali), described the current General Assembly as an opportune moment to tackle burning issues that were affecting the international community, to share worries about global challenges and to try and find durable solutions that were in line with peoples’ profound aspirations.  He went on to say that the global economic and financial crisis that erupted last year had spared no country but had severely weakened the economies of fragile States, especially within Africa.  Also, fluctuating food and petrol prices had reduced revenue and increased inflation in a number of such countries.

Current economic, food and environmental crises had plunged hundreds of millions of people into poverty.  To solve the global financial and economic crisis, it was crucial to make the international monetary system more democratic, by including the concerted efforts of developed and developing countries for a durable outcome.  It was also crucial to revive global development partnerships, to ensure conditions for poverty reduction, better health care and education, and gender equality, in line with the Millennium Development Goals.

Still, he cautioned, a lot remained to be done to attain those goals, despite progress made by developing countries.  He pointed out that donor countries, international financial institutions and development organizations had to pay attention to landlocked developing countries like Mali, since their geographical isolation made it extremely difficult for them to aspire to economic growth and social well-being within a global economy.

Turning to climate change, he said it was one of the planet’s biggest challenges, and urged the international community to intensify efforts towards a global solution at the forthcoming Copenhagen climate summit.  Next, he said peace and security were indispensable to all development processes, and drew the Assembly’s attention to the forthcoming conference in Bamako on peace, security and development in the Sahel-Sahara region.  He also acknowledged progress in African Union-led efforts towards peace and reconstruction.

C.T. NTWAAGAE ( Botswana) welcomed the United Nations reforms made to streamline rules, mandates and policies that would promote transparency, coherence and efficiency.  Global cooperation was necessary to meet today’s challenges and uplift the living standards of people around the globe.   Botswana was committed to tackling the devastating HIV/AIDS pandemic and had attended the mid-term review last year of the status of implementation of the 2001 Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS.  He stressed that the global economic crisis had placed people living with HIV/AIDS at greater risk as budget constraints prompted cuts to health programmes.  It was essential that Governments move towards the 2010 Goal of achieving universal access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment care and support.

Turning to situations throughout the wider continent, he said Somalia remained a dangerous place rife with kidnappings, banditry and piracy –- even peacekeepers had not been spared.  International support and assistance was urgently required to deploy a stabilization force to strengthen the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and support long-term peace in the country.

Regarding the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Great Lakes Region, he appreciated the collective efforts of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), the Special Representative of the Great Lakes Region and other international initiatives.  But the international community should not underestimate the gravity of the challenges that hampered that Region’s lasting stability and sustainable development.  The efforts of regional bodies like the African Union must be combined with the work of the United Nations to help Great Lakes countries manage conflict and post‑conflict situations.

Botswana was disturbed by the emerging trend in Africa, and other parts of the world, of coups and unconstitutional transfers of power, he continued, expressing his “unreserved condemnation” of the coups that had taken place in Mauritania, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Madagascar and Honduras.   Botswana would have been very disappointed “if someone like [Andry] Rajoelina, who masterminded the overthrow of a democratically elected Government in Madagascar”, had been allowed to address the Assembly.

He said the Southern African Development Community (SADC) had correctly decided to suspend the regime in Madagascar from participating in councils and structures of the subregional organization.  The African Union maintained the principled position of automatically suspending any regime that came into power by overthrowing the constitutional order.  The international community had to be united in its determination to isolate the regime in Antananarivo and could not embrace them in the international forums.

Another disturbing development that undermined democracy was the attempt at constitutional change by leaders and political parties that had lost elections.  The international community could not condone leaders whom, for their own selfish interests, changed their countries’ constitutions to ensure they remained in power.  The world needed to ensure that elections were credible and reflected the sovereign will of the people.  Governments should not be allowed to conduct elections and then temper the outcome to suit their interests.  With respect to the International Criminal Court, Botswana reiterated its position that it was fully committed to respecting the Court’s integrity and impartiality, and supported the principle of universal jurisdiction under international law and practice.

CELESTINO MIGLIORE, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, began by noting that the deliberations of the preceding session of the Assembly had been dominated by preoccupation with the global financial crisis.  It was only fitting that this year, delegations have been asked to focus on effective responses to global crises:  multilateralism and dialogue among civilizations.  He invoked the preamble of the United Nations Charter to “reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small”.

He mentioned the intertwining of various world crises in the last months and said that they provoked discussion on presuppositions of thought and principles of individual, social and international behaviour, which extended well beyond the financial field.  He added that “high human and spiritual values serve to renovate the international order from within, where the real crisis lies”.  The theme of peace and development coincided with the inclusion of all peoples in the human family.

He mentioned a recent appeal by Pope Benedict XVI, who had said that, in the face of unrelenting growth of global interdependence, there was a strongly felt need, even in the middle of a global recession, for an urgent reform of the United Nations, as well as economic institutions and global finance, so that the concept of the family of nations can acquire real teeth.  Such reform was urgent, in order to find innovative ways to implement the principle of the “responsibility to protect” and give poorer nations an effective voice.  The more interdependent the world became, the greater the need for the United Nations.

“We must always remember that true development involves an integral respect for human life,” he said.  Unfortunately, in some parts of the world, development aid was tied to recipient countries’ willingness to adopt programmes, which discouraged the demographic growth of certain populations by methods and practices disrespectful of human dignity and rights.  In that regard, it was both “cynical and unfortunate that frequent attempts continue to be made to export such a mentality to developing countries, as if it were a form of cultural progress or advancement”.

Every human being had a right to good governance, and should be guaranteed a free and dignified life, he said, adding that dignity should include personal responsibility and respect for the dignity of others.  At the origin of the current global crises is the pretence of States and individual persons that only they have rights and they are reluctant to take responsibility for their own and other people’s integral development.  “Often in the activity of international organisms is reflected an inconsistency already widespread in the more developed societies; on the one hand, appeals are made to alleged rights, arbitrary and non-essential […].while, on the other hand, fundamental and basic rights, already explicit in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, remain unacknowledged and are violated in much of the world.”

The principle of the responsibility to protect was formulated at the 2005 World Summit and received the unanimous consensus of all United Nations Member States, he said.  That principle “becomes a touchstone” of principles of truth in international relations and global governance.  He said that the recognition of the dignity of every man and woman ensured that Governments always undertook with every means to prevent and combat crimes of genocide, ethnic cleansing and any other crimes against humanity.  Thus, recognizing their interconnected responsibility to protect, States would realize the importance of accepting the collaboration of the international community, as a means of fulfilling their role of providing responsible sovereignty.

He acknowledged the work of peacekeepers and the role they played in stabilizing innumerable local conflicts and making reconstruction possible.  Nevertheless, he pointed out that the United Nations had not been able to resolve many conflicts, and in many of those, serious crimes against humanity had occurred.  That was why acceptance of the principle of the responsibility to protect, and of the underlying truths, which guide responsible sovereignty, could be the catalyst for the reform of the Security Council.  In that context, he noted the Honduran people and their continued suffering from the too-long political upheaval.  He said that the Holy See urged concerned parties to find a prompt solution.

He ended with the issue of climate change, saying that “the protection of the environment continued to be at the forefront of all multilateral activities because it involved in cohesive form the destiny of all the nations and the future of every individual man and woman”.  He added that the recognition of the double truth of interdependence and personal dignity also required that environmental issues be taken as a moral imperative and translated into legal rules capable of protecting the planet.

Rights of Reply

Exercising his right of reply in response to Djibouti’s statement, the representative of Eritrea said Djibouti had been engaged in a public campaign against his country for quite some time.  When those efforts were initially made, Eritrea had chosen not to respond through a similar diplomatic and media campaign, as it did not want to fall into the trap of escalating a crisis created by others as part of misguided and destabilizing policies in the Horn of Africa.

He said it was strange to condemn a Member State on the basis of incomplete and one-sided information, and then request the Secretary-General to send a United Nations fact-finding mission.  He was seriously concerned that it had become common practice to embroil countries in an endless crisis, only in the desire to gain control of regions by managing those crises.  There were various crises that illustrated that trend, among which was that between Djibouti and Eritrea.

Recalling that, on 10 June 2008, Djibouti had launched an unprovoked attack on an Eritrean border unit, he said it was important to note that, through patience, Eritrea had contained that ploy.   Eritrea’s desire was to restore and cultivate good relations with Djibouti, on the basis of full respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty.  He called on Djibouti to stop allowing Mount Musa Ali to be occupied by troops hostile to his country.   Eritrea did not have any territorial ambition and had not occupied land that belonged to Djibouti.

Responding, the representative of Djibouti, also speaking in exercise of right of reply, said her delegation’s statement this morning had referred to tangible facts that regional and international organizations had witnessed for themselves since the start of the crisis between the two countries.  The conclusions of the United Nations fact-finding mission were unequivocal: Eritrea had rejected mediation efforts to resolve the crisis.  Security Council resolution 1862 (2009) condemned Eritrea’s action against theRas Doumeira and Doumeira Islands; requested its withdrawal of forces and a return to the status quo ante; and called for dialogue in the search for a diplomatic end to the crisis.

There had been a lack of cooperation on the part of Eritrea, she continued.  Indeed, Eritrea, since its accession to independence, had launched aggressions against various countries, including Yemen, Sudan, Ethiopia and, most recently, against Djibouti.  She said Djibouti had spared no effort to stop that from happening.  “You need two to have a dialogue,” she said, emphasizing that no Member of the United Nations could disrespect international law, and thus, it was time that resolution 1862 (2009) be implemented.

In response, the Representative of Eritrea wished to clarify that resolution 1862 (2009) and other findings had been issued based on unacceptable facts on the ground.  Eritrea wished for the restoration of normal relations with Djibouti.

The representative of Djibouti then recalled, as he had stated previously, that the facts spoke for themselves and the United Nations documents that were available proved what had been described.  The United Nations fact-finding mission had concluded that Djibouti had cooperated fully and that Eritrea had done nothing.   Eritrea had also ignored the United Nations Secretary-General’s good offices.   Djibouti’s representative said he was pleased to hear Eritrea speaking of “good neighbourly relations” and keeping the calm.  Perhaps that was a change in position, and it would be desirable.

Closing Statement by General Assembly President

In closing remarks, ALI ABDUSSALAM TREKI, President of the General Assembly, said he was pleased that the theme for this year’s general debate -– “Effective Responses to Global Crises: Strengthening Multilateralism and Dialogue among Civilizations for International Peace, Security and Development” -– had catalysed important policy discussion.  Throughout the debate, the Assembly had heard a clear call for dialogue and a willingness to act together.

“I am heartened that, inside this hall -– as well as outside -– in the various meetings and events on the sidelines, there was a renewed commitment to promoting an effective and inclusive multilateralism,” Mr. Treki said, adding that he would work with Member States to advance that objective.

Indeed, there had been clear calls to promote greater coherence and understanding among regional and political groupings, he explained, as well as dialogue among faiths, cultures and civilizations -– a course that had to be followed to fully tap opportunities.  The General Assembly was uniquely placed to forge collective strategies for the common good.

On the issue of climate change, he recalled the widely shared concern about its impacts on present and future generations, and the powerful testimonies from small island States, whose very survival was threatened.  It was an issue that had sent ripple effects across the global economy, in areas of health and safety, food production, peace and security and realization of the Millennium Development Goals.  At the same time, there was a readiness to agree on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and to make the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen a success. 

In the area of conflict prevention, he recounted that he had heard calls for more collective actions to settle disputes, and that, in some areas –- Afghanistan, Cyprus, Haiti, Iraq and Liberia among them -– there had been concrete steps towards sustainable political solutions.  Of utmost concern, however, was the situation in the Middle East, including on the long-standing issue of Palestine, which was at the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

While calling the situation in Gaza “unsustainable”, he said he was encouraged by United States efforts to promote a just, lasting and comprehensive solution, which would require a more effective role for the United Nations.  On that point, he said there had been broad support for the Organization’s role in peacekeeping, peacebuilding, conflict prevention, mediation and protection of civilians.

Turning to disarmament, he had noted wide concern at the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and passionate calls for a nuclear-weapon-free world.  Encouraged by States’ willingness to engage constructively ahead of and during the upcoming Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, he urged working together to ensure equal security for all.

Similarly, there had been broad agreement on the need for a collective response to the unprecedented global financial crisis, he said, having noted suggestions to strengthen the international economic system, including the Bretton Woods institutions, to make them more inclusive and transparent.  The Assembly would continue to follow up on the High-level Conference on the Economic and Financial Crisis and Its Impact on Development, held in June.

As for the Millennium Development Goals, he said speakers had rightly noted that, at the current rate, it would take more than 100 years to achieve them.  Drastic measures were needed ahead of next year’s tenth anniversary of the Millennium Declaration.

Turning lastly to United Nations reform, he said he had heard urgent calls for comprehensively reforming the Security Council, making it more democratic, open and, hence, more legitimate.  Many delegates had emphasized the need to review the Peacebuilding Commission and the Human Rights Council, and to continue the revitalization of the General Assembly. 

“Through multilateralism and dialogue, we can collectively achieve all these goals,” he said, assuring delegates of his intention to conduct such work with transparency, fairness and respect for the General Assembly’s central role in the United Nations.  “I look forward to working with you all in this spirit as we face our common challenges,” he concluded.

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