24 September 2010

With United Nations Credibility, Leadership Role in Jeopardy, World Leaders Warn Only ‘Radical Overhaul’ Can Bring Organization Fully into Twenty-First Century

24 September 2010
General Assembly
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-fifth General Assembly


14th & 15thMeetings (AM & PM)

With United Nations Credibility, Leadership Role in Jeopardy, World Leaders Warn

Only ‘Radical Overhaul’ Can Bring Organization Fully into Twenty-First Century

Annual General Debate Continues With Calls for Security Council Reform

A shifting power balance and rapid globalization of threats — from economic crisis and drug trafficking to pollution and terrorism — taken together, had ushered in a new world order, challenging the United Nations to update its anachronistic structures and mindsets so it could truly lead in the twenty-first century, world leaders told the General Assembly today as it moved into day two of its annual general debate.

Such reforms, many of the day’s nearly 40 speakers argued, must include a Security Council that reflected the views of developing countries and emerging economies, which were currently sidelined from that powerful decision-making table.  Africa’s voice in particular should be heard on compelling peace and security issues, as well as water management, poverty eradication and women’s empowerment.  Some urged that blocs like the European Union be represented in the General Assembly, while others were hopeful that a broad international push over the next year could lead to the addition of a new member, Palestine.  The key to making headway on all those issues was a United Nations that was more responsive to changed circumstances.

“We are not doing anything like what we must,” said Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.  In recent years, global institutions had sometimes struggled to adapt to new circumstances.  Reform was essential, he said, adding: “All of us have to respond to a world that is profoundly altered.”  Without a radical overhaul, the United Nations would not provide the needed leadership. The Security Council must reflect the new geography of power, with permanent seats for Brazil, India, Germany and Japan, as well as African representation.  The European Union’s vital role in promoting prosperity should be represented in the Assembly.  As a community of nations, he said the United Nations faces three challenges: redrawing of the map of power; globalization of problems, including terrorism and climate change; and increasingly fluid forms of identity.

Pressing further, Abdoulaye Wade, President of Senegal, pointed out that the Organizations very Charter bore the “stigma of colonial prejudice” as it still referred to the notion of an “enemy State” and general principles of law recognized by “civilized” nations, as if there existed uncivilized ones.  Composed of 51 Members in 1945, the United Nations today counted 192.  Meanwhile, the Security Council’s membership had changed only once — in 1965 — and 17 years of discussion on the matter had passed without much progress.  He said maintaining the status quo would only expose that body to more criticism.  “Inertia can be very dangerous,” he said.  The United Nations could never be credible without a permanent Security Council seat for Africa with veto rights.

For some, it seemed as though the United Nations had evolved into a two-tier Organization, reflecting a world that was divided into two groups, one with inherent laudable values, rights and liberties, and another that needed coaching on those principles.  Rwanda, said its President, Paul Kagame, seemed to have been relegated to the latter, along with other developing nations.  “Marginalized and disenfranchised, we are also considered chronic violators of our own human rights,” he said.  An accountability deficit worked against the idea that the United Nations was credible, relevant and democratic.  He urged that it did not become a tool for the powerful to subjugate others.

Supporting that point, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of Uganda, said Africa’s economic re-awakening was a strong building block that would strengthen the United Nations.  Some Western groups had begun to talk of African “lions”, equating their performance to that of Asian “tigers” of the past, with estimates projecting African consumption to reach $1.4 trillion by 2020.

In some areas, a disconnect was seen in more general but equally important work to reach the Millennium Development Goals, other speakers said.  There were times it felt like the international system set out to put hurdles in the path of its own efforts to overcome challenges, said Bharrat Jagdeo, President of Guyana, pointing to a lack of coherence between aid, trade and climate, which made it difficult for poor countries seeking progress.  The United Nations should establish global accountability indicators to transparently monitor whether States were pursuing policies that helped them discharge their global duties in a holistic manner.  Better accountability, properly understood, could help the United Nations rise to current challenges.

As for building peace and security, resumed dialogue between Israel and the Palestinian Authority was “really good news,” said Christine Fernandez, President of Argentina.  During the current session, she hoped to see a State of Palestine seated in the Assembly Hall.  That would contribute greatly to global peace and security.

Offering a fresh perspective, Montenegro’s President Filip Vujanović said that his country, as the youngest member of the United Nations, welcomed the adoption of the resolution on system-wide coherence and supported United Nations efforts to fight transboundary problems like organized crime, drug trafficking and trafficking in human beings.  He also underlined his appreciation for United Nations peacekeeping missions, saying “a decades-long experience in peacekeeping operations confirmed the justification and relevance of this concept and strategic policy of the UN.”  Montenegro was continuously enhancing its participation.

Also speaking today were the Heads of State of Hungary, Gabon, Lebanon, Finland, Palau, Cyprus, Nigeria, Liberia, Colombia, Zimbabwe, Haiti, Namibia, Comoros, El Salvador, Estonia, Philippines, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Nauru, Latvia, and former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

The Prime Ministers of Kuwait, Japan, Togo, Romania and Saint Lucia also spoke, as did the Deputy Prime Minister of Luxembourg and the Foreign Ministers of New Zealand, Iceland, Congo and Honduras.

The representative of Iran spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The Assembly will reconvene at 9 a.m. on Saturday, 25 September, to continue its general debate.


The General Assembly met today to continue its general debate.


PÁL SCHMITT, President of Hungary, confirmed that, as a candidate country to the Security Council for 2012-2013, his Government would do its utmost in contributing to the international community’s crisis management and peacekeeping operations, as well as to international development and humanitarian activities.  Naming climate change among the paramount challenges of the twenty-first century threatening security and economic development, he said that the international community should pay particular attention to the concerns of the small island States of the Caribbean and the Pacific and that a series of action-oriented decisions should be adopted at the upcoming negotiation sessions of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Cancun, Mexico.  He added that Hungary was committed to reducing European Union greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent until 2020 and further reductions if partners made similar commitments.

Hungary was at the forefront of international efforts to fight all forms of discrimination, including discrimination based on national or ethnic origin, and it had decided to establish the Budapest-based Tom Lantos Institute, an international centre for promoting human rights and tolerance, he said, noting that Hungary also felt compelled to raise the issue of women worldwide.  Regarding nuclear disarmament, Hungary also was concerned that the growing consensus around an ultimate goal of so-called “Global Zero” in nuclear weapons was offset by overt and covert attempts at weapons of mass destruction and missile proliferation by certain countries.

He went on to say that Hungary fully supported the statement made in New York on 22 September by the High Representative of the European Union on the negotiations conducted between the “E3+3” Powers (China, France, Germany, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and United States) and Iran.  Condemning international terrorism in all forms and referring to the 11 September attacks, he said, “The appalling statement made by one of the speakers yesterday concerning this tragic event is unacceptable and is detrimental to the noble cause of promoting mutual understanding and dialogue between religions and civilizations.”

Progress towards the stabilization of the Western Balkans and the resolution of its still existing problems should be an internally driven process, supported by the international community, and Hungary respected the recently issued advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on Kosovo, he said.  Hungary also expressed its commitment to supporting Afghanistan through bilateral and multilateral channels.

Additionally, Hungary envisaged the establishment of an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian state, living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbours, and welcomed direct talks between the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority.  Stating that Hungary was also a partner to African countries in enhancing development and establishing peace and security, he encouraged Africa’s voice be heard in relation to compelling global questions, such as water management, poverty eradication and the empowerment of women.

Cristina Fernández, President of Argentina, cited three high points heard in speeches given yesterday:  fallout from the global economic crisis; impacts of climate change; and preservation of world peace and international security.  “The emerging countries, especially Argentina have a good deal of experience in connection with these items,” she said.  Developing countries were sustaining economic development and creating the instruments needed to overcome the economic crisis.

Her country had been a “stellar student” in that regard, having experienced unbearable debts, and been unable to produce the goods and services needed.  Thanks to a policy launched in 2003, Argentina had overcome various crises, relying on its own beliefs and interests.  It had emerged from debt, renegotiated 93 per cent of all its debts, and had experienced unprecedented growth over the last year, thanks to counter-cyclical measures taken.  Argentina boasted a 9 per cent economic growth rate over the last year and reduced unemployment to 7.9 per cent.

She said that it was urgent to enact global legislation in the area of speculative funds and an evaluation of risk factors.  Further, there was a need to reengineer, at the national level, multilateral funds.  A new theoretical framework was needed, with new roles to be played by States that promoted fiscal measures for stable employment.  Currencies should not just be seen in terms of monetary funds.  A currency was directly related to growth possibilities.  Wealth should be distributed fairly throughout society.

Turning to climate change, she said that issue was of central importance and just, equitable solutions must be proposed, especially by polluters.  It was unfair for developing countries to bear the burden of problems started by developed countries that had polluted for decades.  As for building peace and security, resumed dialogue between Israel and the Palestinian Authority was “really good news”.  During this session, she hoped to see a state of Palestine seated in the Assembly Hall.  That would contribute greatly to global peace and security.

On another important issue, she said that in 1992 and 1994, Argentina had suffered terrorist attacks when Israeli buildings were targeted.  In 2007, the then-President had requested Iran to accede to Argentina’s request of extradition of officials that had assisted in the perpetration of that crime.  Argentina’s system guaranteed a due process of law.  If Iran did not believe in Argentine justice, it should choose a third country that could guarantee due process of law.  “For us, it was an attack on all Argentineans,” she said.  “All the Argentine Government wants is justice”.

In connection with security, she asked for respect for sovereignty in the Malvinas islands, where the United Kingdom had refused to abide by General Assembly resolutions, or engage in talks on the question of sovereignty.  There had been unilateral decisions to explore for hydrocarbons, which had damaged natural resources in an area 14,000 miles away from the United Kingdom.

On ecological catastrophes, she said there had been a lack of control over the United Kingdom’s actions in the Malvinas.  “We must reform our Security Council,” she said, adding that the United Kingdom had misused its position in that body.  The Council thus far had not been able to preserve international peace and security.  The world in which that 15-member body had been created no longer existed.  Argentina had an enlightening case to make for the Malvinas.  Only the developing countries were being forced to abide by resolutions and peace could not be built in such an environment.  Concepts of peace and security could not be associated only with military matters; they also concerned equity, freedom and equality.

NICK CLEGG, Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, said countries today understood how deeply the world had changed since the creation of the United Nations.  The spirit of citizenship of that era was needed today as never before, with the world facing three broad issues:  a redrawing of the power map; the globalization of challenges; increasingly fluid forms of identity; and increasing potency of ideas.  Taken together, all that meant a new world was at play and those issues needed matching responses.  Institutions must be aligned to deal with them.  Liberal values and human rights must be promoted to win the conflict of ideas.

In all three areas, “we are not doing anything like what we must”, he said.  The effects of multilateralism were in question in the wake of the global financial crisis, climate change and stalling of global trade talks.  Nations had been reticent in promoting human values and a new confidence in the expression of ideals was needed.  Addressing the first issue, he said the distribution of military power was changing and power was being wielded in different places and ways, which required changing institutions and freeing up international trade.

The Security Council must reflect the new geography of power, and the United Kingdom supported permanent seats for Brazil, India, Germany and Japan, as well as African representation.  He said that closer cooperation on counter-terrorism was also needed.  Without a radical overhaul, the United Nations would not provide the needed leadership.  The European Union’s vital role in promoting prosperity should be represented in the Assembly.  The United Kingdom welcomed the United States’ efforts to revitalize the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians and was committed to helping end hostilities.  On efforts to end weapons proliferation, he welcomed the recent Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, saying his Government would work to make the world safer.

Turning to Iran, he said he had been prepared to welcome the “E3+3” on Iran, but instead, an issue of grave concern had been overshadowed by bizarre comments by Iran’s President yesterday, which were meant to distract and generate media headlines.  “They deserve to do neither,” he said.  In other areas, “a trading world was a safer world”, and a global trade deal would be worth $170 billion annually.  “We simply cannot afford protectionism,” he said.  A more ambitious deal than originally envisioned was needed.

Addressing the globalization of problems, he said economies — and their prosperity — were tied together like never before.  There were also global networks of terrorism, and the world must get used to the idea of “stateless problems”, as conflicts now took place both within and across national boundaries.  Conflict undermined collective prosperity and the sources of violence must be tackled.  The United Kingdom had been at the forefront of United Nations efforts to deliver more effective peacekeeping, but that alone was not the answer.

Peacebuilding also was needed and the United Nations was uniquely placed to both keep the peace and make it last, he declared.  The coming year would see challenges in that regard:  in Sudan, where a referendum would be held on southern Sudan; in Somalia, where the African Union was playing a crucial role; and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where more must be done to achieve real security.  The United Kingdom was fully committed to bringing peace to Afghanistan.  Progress was being made and the United Kingdom would continue to help Afghans build a better country, he added.  Moreover, its commitment to allocate 0.7 per cent of its gross national income (GNI) to international development assistance would be enshrined in law.

Those values could not be claimed by any one nation, he stressed; they were global values with global force.  Countries should never apologize that women and men were equal, or shy away from the insistence that no one be silenced because of their religious beliefs.  He wished to see the Human Rights Council do more to ensure that States implemented their obligations.  The United Kingdom’s foreign policy would be shaped by those three issues and the Government would promote its ideals and interests while remaining realistic in its approach.  Moreover, it was reviewing its strategic security policy, as threats today were often less visible than in the past.  “Security must be judged by how able we are to respond to unpredictable threats,” he said.  The United Kingdom had learned that democracy could not be created by dictate.  The new Government would restore the United Kingdom’s international reputation by pursuing a “hard-headed foreign policy with liberal outlook”.

ALI BONGO ONDIMBA, President of Gabon, said his country’s democratic transition had heightened the sense of responsibility for its people.  The ongoing process of social economic reform was based on three strategic pillars:  green Gabon, industrial Gabon, and Gabon of services.  Green Gabon was a cross-cutting approach; industrial depended on developing resources and preserving the environment; and service promoted tourism.

He went on to say that in Gabon a climate council mainstreamed policies into development plans.  A partnership with Brazil and France provided for satellite imaging to monitor the rainforests.  Other priorities included improving governance, fighting corruption and preserving the environment, efforts that called for international support.  Gabon was committed to shouldering its responsibilities in the Security Council.

Given the complexity of new and emerging global crises, he said a new approach to conflict management was needed, as peacekeeping had, for lack of resources, failed to intervene.  The United Nations needed the capacity to provide robust peacekeeping missions, however, and he reiterated his call for a culture of conflict prevention, and of saving resources.

Turning to another concern, he said there was uncertainty in Africa as the date for Sudan’s referendum approached, including a fear of “balkanization”.  The parties involved should take full stock of their duties in carrying out the referendum.  In Darfur, parties should involve themselves in the Doha political process.  On other regional issues, he said reconfiguring the United Nations mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo showed the Organization’s commitment to adapt to changing situations on the ground.  The Government should be urged to ensure stability.  Parties in the Western Sahara should restart the Manhasset talks to find a political solution acceptable to all.  Niger and Madagascar should be supported towards the holding of elections.

On terrorism, he said States should cooperate with the United Nations and should pay attention to the cross-cutting threats of piracy, weapons proliferation and transnational organized crime.  As for climate change, Gabon favoured a legally binding instrument and hoped the upcoming Cancun meeting of the States parties to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change would lead to one.  The United Nations must adapt to the new international context, notably by revitalizing the General Assembly and reforming the Security Council.  He favoured Africa having a permanent seat in the Council.  He also urged meeting development promises made, especially those made at the 2005 Gleneagles Group of 8 (G‑8) summit and those regarding the Doha Development Round of world trade talks.

MICHEL SLEIMAN, President of Lebanon, noting that this was the first time he was addressing the General Assembly since Lebanon had been elected as a non-permanent member of the Security Council, said his country was proud to assume such responsibilities, including in the service of Arab concerns and the cause of justice and peace in the world.  He welcomed the statement issued following the High-level Meeting regarding the Millennium Development Goals.  He commended the United Nations progress towards strengthening the role of women, calling that an issue of special interest, since Lebanon had proved a pioneer in the region by granting women the right to vote in legislative elections in 1954.

Citing the important political role of the United Nations and the Organization’s resolutions concerning the Arab-Israeli conflict, he noted, however, that the Organization’s efforts had faded in the face of Israeli intransigence and inclination for expanding and adopting a settlement policy.  He explained that it would be impossible to reach a permanent solution for the Middle East unless all aspects of that conflict were justly and comprehensively addressed and unless the international community worked to ensure means for implementation.  Any solution must be based on resolutions relating to Madrid’s Terms of Reference and the Arab Peace Initiative, particularly those assuring the rejection of the Palestinian refugees’ settlement in Arab host countries, should their circumstances contradict such settlement.

He emphasized that the settlement of Palestinian refugees on Lebanon’s territories, which the country had frequently declared it would not accept, would provoke repercussions and dangers affecting security and stability.  The Palestinian refugees issue could not be solved through Israeli-Palestinian negotiations alone, in a way that disregarded Lebanon and other concerned host countries.

The responsibility for ensuring the well-being of the international community fell on all stakeholders, he continued, and added that increasing contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) budget would guarantee a decent life for the Palestinian refugees under the sovereignty of host countries.  He added that Lebanon condemned international terrorism, calling for exploring means to clearly define it and address its root causes so that it would be distinguished from legitimate foreign occupations.

While noting that Lebanon was committed to Security Council resolution 1701 (2006), he said that Israel violated Lebanese airspace, territories and waters daily, and that the Israeli spying networks’ work to destabilize his country had reached a point necessitating the international community to take a firm position to thwart Israeli aggressions and make Israel withdraw from Lebanese territories that it still occupied.  Lebanon retained its right to retrieve occupied territories by available means and asserted its right to dispose of its waters, oil and natural gas wealth in accordance with international law.  Commending the efforts of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), he also reemphasized the importance of cooperation with the Lebanese Army to ensure proper implementation of the mission.

ABDOULAYE WADE, President of Senegal, citing economic crisis, environmental degradation, transborder organized crime, terrorism and drug trafficking, said the world had not changed much since the last time the Assembly had gathered.  He expressed hope that solutions be found and it was natural to turn to the United Nations for such assistance.  The Assembly’s focus on governance perhaps had come a bit too late.  The question centred on how to make the Organization’s actions more effective in such troubling circumstances.

Continuing, he said that various “certainties” had vanished, new forces had arisen from globalization and competition, and a new world order was being defined.  Emerging Powers would always be prepared to play a new role.  After 65 years, the United Nations was marked by a closed historic period.  The Charter bore the “stigma of colonial prejudice” and still referred to the notion of an “enemy State”.  Article 38 of the statute of the Court of Justice was an anachronism and pointed to the need for reform.  There were 51 Members in 1945; now there were 192.

The Security Council’s composition had changed only once, in 1965, to include 10 non-permanent seats, he said.  Seventeen years of discussion on that matter had passed without much progress.  Maintaining the status quo would expose that body to more criticism.  “Inertia can be very dangerous,” he said.  How could a credible United Nations be envisioned without a role for Africa on the Council?  Senegal had argued for a permanent seat for Africa with veto rights on the Council.

Reform was also needed for the International Criminal Court.  Renewing Senegal’s attachment to the Court, he said it would never be a credible body if Sudan’s President was the only one to be pursued with suspicious haste.  Amid multiple crises, the question of global governance was the “order of the day”.  Efforts by the G-8 and G-20 were praiseworthy, but several countries wished to see a group of high-level experts to be placed upstream of those groupings.  He would dedicate himself to that task.  He also had proposed an “oil against poverty” fund.

Regarding the Millennium Development Goals, he said Senegal had measured work to be done before 2015, adding that a purely quantitative approach was insufficient; more imagination was needed.  Senegal had implemented a Grand Agricultural Project for Food and Plenty, which had allowed it to move from being a net importer to exporter of food.  “Modern Daaras” schools taught the teachings of the Koran, as well as Arabic and French language.  It was possible to provide spiritual training in schools while promoting children’s social skills.  Another strategy outlined allocating 40 per cent of the budget to education, while yet another initiative addressed the school dropout rate.

Further, he said policies to promote rural women allowed them to undertake activities that had previously been in the hands of corporations.  A digital solidarity initiative sought to bridge the digital divide, while an eco-villages strategy sought to give those villages more autonomy by using solar technologies, among others.  In other matters, he said “Islamaphobia” exposed the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of its authors and he outright rejected it.  Islam and Muslims were no one’s enemy.  Islam preached respect for diversity and peaceful coexistence.  He supported Israeli-Palestinian dialogue and reiterated support for Palestinians to achieve an independent, viable State.  He also was happy to see progress made by Niger and Guinea-Bissau.

TARJA HALONEN, President of Finland, said that climate issues and the recent financial, economic and food crises called for a change, and that growth needed to be green, equitable and inclusive.  “The current consumption and production patterns need to be revised in many countries,” she said.  “In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, there is enough in the world for everyone’s need, but there cannot be enough for everybody’s greed.”  She underlined the need to deliver on commitments to the Millennium Development Goals.

Biodiversity was vital for sustaining ecosystems and mitigating climate change, and the Assembly high-level meeting on biodiversity was a good step forward, she said, as was the current two-day session on the special needs and vulnerabilities of the small island developing States and the implementation of the Mauritius Strategy.  She expressed Finland’s commitment to a new ambitious climate agreement, and noted that the United Nations had to promote a new blueprint for low-carbon prosperity.

Human rights must be enjoyed by everyone without discrimination, she said, stating Finland’s support for the International Criminal Court’s work in bringing to justice those responsible for the most serious crimes, she said.  Because solutions to global challenges could not be found without women’s active participation in decision-making levels, Finland also strongly supported UN Women and had started an initiative with Kenya concerning Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace, and security.

Finland supported the development of the United Nations’ peace mediation activities and, following direct talks that have begun in the Middle East, stood ready to give support wherever needed.  Finland was also greatly encouraged by the new START agreement between the United States and the Russian Federation, as well as the outcomes of the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington and the Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, maintaining that global and bilateral efforts had to be continued towards a world without nuclear weapons.

JOHNSON TORIBIONG, President of Palau, called his country’s national story one of “achievement and success”.  As the last country to emerge from the United Nations Trusteeship, its Constitution incorporated the rights and freedoms enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Palau’s strong partnership with the United States had helped its efforts towards self-sufficiency.  The young country retained a strong role in the international community and had deployed peacekeepers to Darfur, Timor-Leste and the Solomon Islands.

With its traditions as its bedrock, Palau had achieved all of its Millennium Goals, most notably, in the areas of universal literacy, gender equality, maternal health and access to education.  Poverty, hunger and infant mortality had also been eliminated, he said.  Regarding biodiversity, Palau and its Pacific neighbours had formed the Pacific Oceanscape, a programme that addressed the “fight for our oceans”.  Its Shark Sanctuary programme, introduced last year, had helped to end unsustainable and wasteful shark finning.  “We cannot accept the loss of 73 million sharks a year for a bowl of soup,” he said, noting that effort was imperative to ensuring the viability of tuna stock and other marine life.

Turning to climate change, he said the adoption of Assembly resolution 63/21 was a landmark occasion and Pacific small island developing States called for action on that text.  As the world’s first nuclear-free Constitution, his country supported the efforts related to disarmament and prevention of proliferation of nuclear weapons.  “We long for the day when the world is free of nuclear weapons,” he said, and welcomed the effort to add the Middle East to the list of nuclear-weapon-free zones.

On United Nations reform, he said Palau was hopeful that progress could be made this year on reshaping the Security Council.  His Government’s position on that issue had been clearly stated in the past, but he reiterated that, if the Organization was to remain relevant, the Security Council’s make-up must reflect the diversity of the United Nations wider membership.  His delegation strongly supported expanding the Council, particularly with the addition of Japan as a permanent member.

In closing, he stressed that Palau “still feels pain from the colonial days”, noting damaged resources and the explosives scattered on its land that still posed dangers.  Humanitarian grants from the international community, he said, would provide “a relief that will heal the gaping wounds of our island and bring justice to our people”.

Dimitris Christofias, President of Cyprus, emphasized the importance of the United Nations and other multilateral organizations and expressed his hope for the creation of an independent Palestinian state, coexisting side by side with the State of Israel.  In this context, Cyprus and Greece had proposed the creation of a humanitarian sea corridor for the people of Gaza.  He also noted the country’s fiftieth anniversary as an independent republic and full Member of the United Nations, as well as its membership with both the Non-Aligned Movement and the European Union.

In the political field, he stated, the first years of Cyprus’ independence were marked by difficulties and differences that had been exacerbated by foreign interference.  One of the outcomes of that interference was the illegal Turkish invasion of July-August 1974 that still occupied 37 per cent of Cyprus.  “The people of Cyprus have suffered enough”, he stated.  It was time to overcome the problems and to achieve reconciliation between the two communities.

He expressed the nation’s appreciation to the Secretary-General, the Security Council and the Organization as a whole, noting in particular the Security Council’s endorsement of the country, through its resolutions, as a bicommunal, bizonal federation with political equality.  He further stated that he had been actively engaged with the leadership of the Turkish Cypriot community within the framework of the Good Offices mission of the Secretary-General on constitutional and internal issues of concern.

It was agreed, he continued, that there would be no “artificial deadlines or outside interventions in the form of arbitration or submission of ready-made solutions”.  A package had been submitted within the framework consisting of three proposals:  the linking of negotiations on chapters of property, territorial adjustments and settlers; the holding of an international conference when agreement was close on internal issues; and initiatives targeting Famagusta.  If accepted, that proposal would have benefits for all sides.  Unfortunately, he said, the new Turkish Cypriot leader and the Turkish leadership had rejected these proposals.

“From this podium”, he emphasized:  “I would like to propose that the National Guard and the Turkish Army cancel again their autumn annual military exercises.  Turkey’s leadership has been assuring the international community that it wants a solution of the problem by the end of 2010.  We are still waiting for their words to be transformed into action.”

GOODLUCK EBELE JONATHAN, President of Nigeria, had been sworn in on 6 May.  He noted the country’s participation in United Nations peacekeeping missions just seven days after its independence as the “direct and deliberate fulfilment” of the international role it had set for itself.  The country still faced daunting challenges.  Progress on reduction of maternal and child mortality was relatively slow and weakness in the primary health-care sector, combined with limited referral institutions, remained crucial challenges.  That said, Nigeria had recorded remarkable progress in the provision of universal basic education and was harmonizing baseline data for proper monitoring and evaluation of all Millennium Development Goal projects.

“The smooth succession of power since Nigeria’s return to democratic rule in 1999, including my own ascension to the presidency”, he stated, was evidence of commitment of all stakeholder’s to democratic governance.  In this context, the country would hold free, fair and credible elections and strengthen institutional structures for combating corruption and financial crimes, including reforming the financial sector to make it more accountable and transparent.  In support of the nation’s commitment to the global efforts against terrorism, he was confident that two bills — the Anti-Terrorism Bill and the Anti-Money-Laundering Bill — would be passed into law before the end of the legislative year.

He shared the vision of other leaders of a world free of nuclear weapons and noted Nigeria’s support and active participation in the adoption of the Pelindaba Treaty on an African nuclear-weapon-free zone as evidence of its commitment to that vision.  He also highlighted the dangers posed by small arms and light weapons, which had destabilized the continent, fuelled and prolonged conflicts, and obstructed relief programmes.

Furthermore, those weapons had undermined peace initiatives; increased human rights abuses; hampered development; and served to foster a culture of organized crime and violence.  Despite their extensive impact, commensurate attention had not been accorded to addressing that issue.  He called upon the United Nations to take firm action by adopting an Arms Trade Treaty, adding that an estimated 100 million of these weapons were in sub-Sahara Africa alone and there were no global treaties or legally binding instruments to address this challenge.

“I urge the United Nations to devote renewed attention to preventive diplomacy,” he stated, noting that the increasing financial burden of peacekeeping and high human cost of conflict underscored the importance of that request.  As a major troop-contributing country for peacekeeping operations, Nigeria believed it was also essential that the rules of engagement be reviewed, among other things, to prevent high casualty rates.

Underlining the theme of the Assembly’s sixty-fifth session — reaffirming the central role of the United Nations in global governance — Nigeria urged the United Nations to quicken the pace of its reforms to better reflect current global realities and ensure genuine legitimacy.  In particular, expansion of the Security Council would accord the Organization greater effectiveness.  “The exclusion of Africa from the permanent membership category of the Security Council can no longer be justified”, he concluded.

NASSER AL-MOHAMMAD AL-AHMAD AL-SABAH, Prime Minister of Kuwait, said the United Nations was the world’s best multilateral international mechanism and the most legitimate, neutral and credible institution.  Over six decades, it had demonstrated the ability to ward off destructive wars and maintain global peace and security.  However, the international community faced increasing challenges and was becoming more entangled and complex.  Organizations had branched out to confront social crises, economic problems and security challenges which had wiped out many of the gains numerous developing countries achieved towards reaching the Millennium Goals.  Natural disasters had also harmed many of the same countries and plenty of work remained to limit the dangers of climate change.

To meet the world’s challenges, the United Nations needed reforms to keep pace with changes in international relations and advance their performance, and Kuwait welcomed the establishment of UN Women to foster international efforts to accelerate gender equality.  He added that after 17 years of negotiations to reform the Security Council, it was time to make that body’s work more transparent, increase its members to achieve fair representation and guarantee the right of Arab and Muslim States’ representation corresponding with their size and contributions.

With its firm belief in the United Nations vital role easing human suffering, Kuwait has decided to increase voluntary contribution to a number of United Nations programmes fivefold.  Kuwait has also approved its own 2010-2014 development plan, allocating nearly $115 billion to develop infrastructure and continue to improve basic services.  Continuing, he said that 20 years since it had been invaded by Iraq, Kuwait was optimistic about future relations between the two countries and was ready to assist the Iraqi Government and, in that regard, hoped negotiations between its political parties would lead to the formation of a national unity Government representing a democratic, peaceful Iraq.

Kuwait, in its capacity as Chair of the current session of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the United Arab Emirates and Iran also continue to work to find a resolution for the conflict over the occupied Em irati Islands.  He added that States had the right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes but called upon all States to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and take steps to reassure the legitimacy of their programmes, which would make the Middle East a nuclear-weapon-free zone.  The Arab-Israeli conflict was considered one of the gravest threats to the region; the international community and Security Council were responsible to deal “seriously and sternly” with Israel.

NAOTO KAN, Prime Minister of Japan, shared his vision for the country’s future contribution to global affairs and appealed for a wider range of cooperation among all nations towards resolution of today’s key challenges.  He said global change required political leaders to reduce human suffering and to build societies that could sustain — and restore — true peace.  Japan had made contributions in four areas, including development, the global environment, nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and peacekeeping and peacebuilding.

Japan’s successful reconstruction after the Second World War was made possible by the international community.  In that regard, he said The Kan Commitment would provide $5 billion in health assistance, and $3.5 billion for education in developing countries over the next five years.  Japan would contribute up to $800 million for the global fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, and double its official development aid (ODA) in Africa.  Regarding climate change, Japan planned to reduce its emissions by 25 per cent by 2020.  Next month, Nagoya would host the tenth meeting of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Turning to nuclear disarmament, he said Japan was the only country that had ever suffered the devastation of atomic bombings and, therefore, had a responsibility to take concrete steps to realize a world without them.  He had appointed atomic bomb survivors to deliver global messages about the horrors of nuclear weapons and promote the value of peace.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Iran’s nuclear and missile development programmes posed a great threat to the global community, and he urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to take actions in accordance with Security Council resolutions and the joint statement of the Six-Party Talks.

Regarding Japan’s peacebuilding efforts, Self-Defense Forces were sent to assist in the recovery efforts in Haiti and Pakistan, and had military liaison officers in Timor-Leste.  Japan was also supporting the peacebuilding efforts under way in Iraq and Afghanistan, and would continue to support the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.  He stressed the importance of United Nations reform, and reaffirmed Japan’s request to become a permanent member of the Security Council.

In closing, he said Japan would continue providing an innovative model to help solve many of the world’s problems.  He said the country’s creative ideas and use of technology helped make “Made in Japan” a mark of excellence.  Widening his perspective, he stressed that, compared with the magnitude of the responsibilities the international community bore for the future of mankind, the differences that divided nations were not great.  As such, “everything rests on the decisions and actions we take today”.

JEAN ASSELBORN, Deputy Prime Minister of Luxembourg, said the President had quite rightly organized the general debate on the subject of “Reaffirming the central role of the UN in global governance” since only the United Nations had the necessary scope, knowledge and legitimacy to develop and implement effective policies to address global challenges.  Luxembourg welcomed the renewed commitment to fight poverty, noting a true partnership for development was based upon shared responsibilities for both donor and recipient countries.  If good governance, rule of law, capacity-building and ownership were expected of developing countries, developed countries must meet their commitments in terms of aid quality and quantity, particularly in Africa.  Luxembourg’s ODA had reached 0.7 per cent of GNI in 2000; in 2009, it surpassed 1 per cent.

The duty to prevent, contain and resolve conflicts was a central aim of the United Nations, and peacekeeping had reached an unprecedented scale in recent years.  But, the mass rapes and sexual assaults this summer in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the inability of the United Nations Mission to protect civilians there was a brutal reminder of the difficulties of peacekeeping without adequate resources and mandates.  Further, the assaults highlighted the importance of a consistent United Nations commitment to eradicating the use of sexual violence as a weapon in wartime.  “Impunity must end,” he said.  The primary responsibility for the safety of citizens, the fight against impunity and establishment of law lay with the Congolese Government, but the international community must do everything to support its efforts, so the people responsible for those horrendous crimes were found, tried and punished.

He also called for a solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict based on the coexistence of two States, and hoped the resumption of talks would give birth to peace and security between Israel and its neighbours.  It would be important for both parties to show determination and courage and act only according to international law – hence the importance of ending all settlement activity.  He was heartened to see the European Union persist in its call for a prolongation of the moratorium on settlement activity beyond 26 September.  In Sudan, the prospect for a definite settlement was taking shape at last and the international community must help it through this critical period – the referendum on self-determination of southern Sudan and Abyei.  Further, increased efforts were needed to support African Union and United Nations initiatives towards a just political solution in Darfur, where continuing violence threatened stability of Sudan and the region.  He also called for a comprehensive approach to end conflict in Somalia, saying Luxembourg intended to continue support for the Djibouti peace process.

Disarmament and non-proliferation should also not be overlooked when discussing ways to guarantee and strengthen peace.  The success of the 8th Conference on the NPT brought the world closer to a common goal for all – a “world free from nuclear weapons”.  It would now be important to ensure full implementation of those decisions, including holding a conference in 2012 on a nuclear-weapon-free Middle East.  He also welcomed the coming into force of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, being one of the first countries to sign it, and advances towards a binding instrument on trade in conventional weapons.  His country was organizing a symposium on the Arms Trade Treaty for next week.

If one believed in a multilateral approach to all those issues, then there was also a need for decisive internal reforms, including reform of the Security Council to make it more inclusive and representative of today’s realities. Instruments at the United Nations disposal such as peacekeeping operations, the Peacebuilding Commission, the Human Rights Council and the integration of human rights in all action must be revised.  The United Nations needed to overcome systemic fragmentation and enhance the coherence of its structures, and an important step in that direction was made this year with the creation of UN Women.  He welcomed the appointment of Michelle Bachelet as head of UN Women and said she could rely on the full support of Luxembourg.

ELLEN JOHNSON-SIRLEAF, President of Liberia, said four years ago she told the Assembly about a country exhibiting the symptoms of two decades of self-destruction:  a collapsed economy, suffocating external debt, dysfunctional institutions, destroyed infrastructure and a despaired people.  Today, Liberia was well on its way to recovery.  In less than five years, its economy was growing at an average annual rate of 6.5 per cent despite the 2009 global economic crisis.

She went on to say Liberia had successfully carried out the reforms required under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Debt Initiative and on 17 September at the Paris Club, Liberia’s $4.9 billion external debt was wiped off the books.  Liberia had opened the economy to put the private sector at the centre of development and had attracted some $16 billion in private investment to reactivate the mining, agriculture and forestry sectors.  There was new potential in recently started oil exploration.

The results of security sector reform, enhanced by the continued deployment of United Nations peacekeepers, had stabilized the country’s security situation, she said.  That experience showed that peacekeeping and peacebuilding could and should take place concurrently.  In promoting a liberal environment of freedom and equity as the best guarantee for peace, security and stability, Liberia had demonstrated commitment to good governance and respect for human rights.  Regionally, Liberia continued to demonstrate commitment to good neighbourliness, peaceful coexistence and respect for the sovereign integrity of other nations.  It actively participated in subregional and regional affairs through the African Union, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Community of Sahel-Saharan States and the Mano River Union.

As the world was a global village, continued crisis in any Member State warranted concern, she said.  The situation in Somalia warranted a Chapter VII intervention.  The world must act promptly to prevent Somalia from being a haven for anarchists and extremists.  She supported the role of the African Union troops in Somalia.  She called for more troop deployment from other countries and strongly supported action to “end the Somali quagmire”.  She also called on the Somalis to accept dialogue and go to the negotiating table to reconcile their differences and restore their country to peace and dignity.

Liberia’s national development agenda and programmes on ensuring national reconciliation, good governance and the rule of law, national security, food security and poverty reduction were consistent with the Millennium Development Goals, she said.  The country’s progress in that area bore the fruit of that commitment.  Liberia’s efforts for women’s empowerment had been recognized on Sunday, 12 September, when it received an award on progress on the third millennium target.  The target date for achieving the Goals did not matter; what mattered was the commitment to achieving them.  She called on everyone present to support replenishment of resources of the World Bank and African Development Bank.

Liberia still faced challenges, she said.  The security situation was fragile and the subregion faced political uncertainties.  Liberia had aimed to address longstanding corruption by introducing new procurement and financial management systems.  Judicial system reform was under way.  To address Liberia’s vulnerability to organized cross-border crimes, her Government recently signed the Freetown Commitment on Combating Illicit Trafficking of Drugs and Transnational Organized Crime in West Africa.  She said that 2011 would mark a groundbreaking turning point; Liberia would transition to full constitutional rule and participatory democracy.  Everything must be done to ensure a peaceful, legitimate and transparent process.  Her Government was fully committed to that objective.

JUAN MANUEL SANTOS CALDERÓN, President of Colombia, informing the General Assembly that this was his first time speaking before the world body, affirmed the commitment of more than 45 million Colombians to support the success of the United Nations and its founding principles.  In that spirit, he also stated Colombia’s aspiration to become a member of the Security Council for the period 2011 to 2012.  In the 200 years of independence, his country’s response to crisis such as terrorism and “the ravages of international crime” had always been through the rigours of democratic procedures.  It was because of that heritage and experience that Colombia would bring the voice of Latin America and the Caribbean to such a position on the Council.

He then turned to his country’s participation as advocate of and a participant in peacekeeping and peacebuilding operations, including the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNOSIL) and the Multinational Force and Observers in Sinai.  Continuing, he stated that that Latin America, which had nearly 600 million people with diverse positions on multiple political views, was united by the determination to overcome poverty and enter into the global market, among others.

Because of its efforts to assume the management of its economics, Latin America had been the region least affected by the global economic crisis.  A sub-continent filled with “talent and ability to work”, he noted its growing leadership in the global arena and, with the immense challenges facing the world, he stressed that:  “ Latin America can and wants to be part of the solution!”

He reminded the Assembly that his country had the highest biodiversity per square kilometre and was not a country with high polluting emissions.  Yet, regardless of that, Colombia, in assuming responsibility in the area of environmental conservation, wished to become a model country in the world, monitoring forests, carbon emissions and the state of biodiversity.  To this end, he called for a replacement for the Kyoto Protocol, the first commitment phase of which expires in 2012.

In regards to the Millennium Development Goals, he chose not to repeat his country’s own progress and efforts.  Rather, he turned to his recent visit to Haiti, where it had been clear that the pledged international aid had not fully materialized, nor was the impact of what had been deployed visible.  He called for MINUSTAH to be transitioned into a development operation that would achieve concrete results.

He concluded by referring to two entwined “global scourges” of terrorism and drug trafficking; where the former was often financed by the money produced by the latter.  Colombia had been impacted more than any other country by these, yet had been a “model in the fight against them”.  Colombia had been the first country to apply reparations in the demobilization of illegal armed groups, among others, and he called for the international community, in the spirit of shared responsibility, to act together.  “In the fight against drug trafficking, we have lost many of our best soldiers and policemen, many of our best leaders, our best judges and our best journalists,” he said.  Yet these sacrifices were not in vain, the defeat of the major drug cartels being proof.

However, concerned for his neighbours’ increased drug activity that might have resulted from Columbia’s success, he called for the world to “open its eyes” to this serious issue as not doing so might be “fatal”.  Noting the contradictions of some Member States demanding a strong fight against some drugs while simultaneously considering legalizing the consumption of others, he urged that a review of the global strategy against illicit drugs take place and that all countries contribute equally to this end.

ROBERT MUGABE, President of Zimbabwe, reaffirmed commitment to the United Nations and, in particular, to its comprehensive agenda for the promotion of peace and security, sustainable development and human rights.  Like others, he recognized the need to reform the Organization in order to make it better able to carry out its various mandates.  The General Assembly was the most representative organ of the United Nations, and thus its position as the chief deliberative policymaking organ should be respected.  Zimbabwe’s position on Security Council reform was well known, and it was “completely unacceptable” that Africa was the only continent without permanent representation in that body.

“Africa’s plea for justice can not continue to be ignored,” he said, adding that Zimbabwe would also continue to advocate greater equality in international economic relations and decision-making structures.  The developing world continued to suffer from the effects of the global financial crisis.  The critical issues faced would not be addressed when so many countries were left out of the key decision-making processes of institutions of global governance.  All countries needed to participate in making policies and taking decisions that affected the lives and livelihoods of their people.  To that end, he called for the reform of multilateral financial institutions, including Bretton Woods institutions.

He noted that climate change was one of the most pressing global issues of our time, and that talks in Copenhagen in December 2009 had failed to produce a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.  Yet, that conference had been significant as it showed the futility of the rich imposing their views on the poor.  The issue of global food security continued to be a matter of great concern and he reiterated the call for an urgent and substantial increase in investment in agriculture in developing countries.

Zimbabwe condemned the use of unilateral economic sanctions and other coercive measures in international relations.  Such measures were completely at cross-purposes with the principles of international cooperation enshrined in the United Nations Charter.  Turning to several other issues, he called for an end to the United States embargo on Cuba, expressed concern over the stalemate in the Middle East peace process, and noted several reforms that were implemented by his Government, such as the Global Political Agreement.

Continuing, he said that constitutional outreach programme was under way, and upon its conclusion would lead to a new draft constitution.  The three parties to the Global Political Agreement worked to implement most of the issues they agreed on.  In that regard, he commended the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union, the Non-Aligned Movement and indeed like-minded members of the international community who gave their support.

RENÉ PRÉVAL, President of Haiti, paid tribute to the memory of hundreds of thousands of Haitians, those who came to help them and some 100 United Nations staff, particularly former Special Representative of the Secretary-General Heidi Annabi, who had died during the 12 January Haitian earthquake.  Every tragedy offered some solace in terms of generating human solidarity.  He thanked the people and Governments worldwide who came to Haiti’s aid.  That assistance had been crucially important, particularly during the first few weeks.  He thanked Haitians abroad who had joined the international solidarity movement and set up the mechanisms to help Haiti rebuild.  He also thanked the Haitians at home, who demonstrated great dignity, kindness, heroism, stamina and devotion.

Despite its limited resources, Haiti had always demonstrated its full belief in the oneness of the human race, he said.  It fully appreciated the international community’s immense movement of solidarity and compassion from the moment after the earthquake struck to the commitments made on 31 March during the United Nations conference to reconstruct the country based on the Haitian Government’s Plan of Action.

With the aid of the international community and the support of the United Nations, an interim commission was set up to coordinate resources for rebuilding Haiti.  It was an important strategic mechanism to help Haiti transparently manage and carefully mobilize with the international community support for the country as it rebuilt itself.  He said that commission had already adopted more than 30 projects in education, health, infrastructure and other areas worth some $1 billion.  He went on to thank those countries and agencies that had fulfilled their financial pledges and said he trusted that others would follow suit to help the Haitian Government respond quickly to the more than 1 million Haitians still living in tent cities and temporary shelter.

Despite significant progress towards attaining the Millennium Development Goals, much remained to be done because developed countries were not fulfilling their financial commitments.  He criticized the large defence budgets and spending on speculation in the virtual economy.  He was also concerned that ODA continued to fall even though in 2005, developed countries had committed to doubling such aid by 2010.  Developed countries gave three times more in subsidies to their farmers than the allotted-for international development assistance, he added.

The time had come for a new kind of globalization based on common humanity, trust, cooperation and mutual respect, as well as respect for the environment and all forms of life, he said.  The global village would not be able to survive if its rich neighbourhoods lived alongside the wretched in the South.  Haiti was an island in a region swept by hurricanes.  Global warming was particularly worrying, as were the more frequent and devastating cyclones and rising sea level.  Full-scale bloody battles in drug producing and transit countries in the South sometimes jeopardized the very existence of those States, but the engine for profitable drug trafficking was really the demand for drugs in the North.  The only remaining hope was for a renewed humanism.  In addition, South-South cooperation offered some hope, and he urged leaders in countries in the global South to develop such mechanisms.

He called for lifting the embargo against Cuba, which had been condemned in many Assembly resolutions and was contrary to international trade.  He expressed condolences to those nations that had suffered recently from natural disasters.  Presidential and legislative elections would soon take place in Haiti.  It was important that the difficult election process be monitored and carried out properly, transparently and fairly in order to consolidate Haiti’s young democracy.  He appealed to everyone involved to work together so the elections could be held successfully.

PAUL KAGAME, President of Rwanda said it was right that the current session of the Assembly was re-examining the role of the Organization in global governance.  The just-concluded summit to review the status of the Millennium Development Goals had provided another opportunity to assess the work of the United Nations, which, he said, was uniquely placed to play a crucial role in mobilizing and galvanizing all nations for the common good, driving forward collective initiatives and coordinating actions that fostered social and economic development of all.

The United Nations was the sum total of its Member States and could only be as good as those constituent Members wanted it to be.  If there was common understanding among the membership, the Organization would deliver more efficiently on its mandate.  However, it had evolved into a two-tier Organization, reflecting a world that seemed to be divided into two major categories - one with inherent laudable values, rights and liberties and another that needed to be coached on those values.

Rwanda and many other developing countries seemed to have been relegated to that latter category.  Marginalized and disenfranchised, he said:  “We are also considered chronic violators of our own human rights.”  The implication was that the United Nations held a certain standard for some countries and another for others, especially on international issues.  In his view, a debate on the two categories needed to take place among the membership so the Organization could “regain the noble ideals of its founding”.  Rwanda subscribed to the principle that every State was accountable to laws and that the rule of law should govern everyone, but all international rules and laws needed to be equally enforced.

When there were no avenues to appeal international rulings, when there was an accountability deficit in key global institutions and when ordinary citizens felt that the United Nations could not deal adequately with issues affecting their daily lives, the Organization could not be seen as credible, relevant and democratic.  “We should make sure that this Organization does not become a tool for the powerful to protect their interests and enhance their influence, or to use it in subjugating others,” he said, adding that his country would continue to believe in multilateralism.

Touching on other issues, he said that as his country rebuilt, there was an acute awareness of the need for lasting peace and security.  Rwanda would continue to work in partnership with its neighbours, international and regional organizations and the African Union to ensure that peace and security prevail.

HIFIKEPUNYE POHAMBA, President of Namibia, noted that the 2010 General Assembly theme on global governance was timely, especially in light of how the economic crisis had impacted global development.  The United Nations, in its role as an international Organization was positioned to reform the processes of the financial systems.  He called for fair trade regulation and market access reforms, as well as a speedy conclusion to the Doha Development Round of world trade negotiations.

Namibia, classified as a high-middle-income country, was still struggling with social challenges inherited from a colonial past.  It had the largest unequal distribution of income and resources in the world, yet because of its classification, had declining international development assistance.  As such, he appealed to the global institutions involved to allow greater access to support by middle-income countries.  He went on to say that the just-concluded Millennium Goals review summit had given world leaders and stakeholders the opportunity to share and learn valuable experiences.  Even with the evidence that more needed to be done, “challenges encountered should encourage us and the successes should inspire us all”, he said.

Addressing the issue of climate change and its effect on the global community, he pointed out that Namibia did not significantly contribute to greenhouse gases, yet it was highly vulnerable to climate change and had experienced increased floods and droughts, which destroyed livestock, wild animals and crops.  He called on industrial countries to not only bring drastic reductions to greenhouse gas emissions, but to support developing countries in mitigating the effects of climate change and fulfil the commitments made at the Copenhagen climate talks.  In that regard, he looked forward to the next meeting of the States parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to be held in Mexico in November this year.

Turning to the Security Council, he spoke of resolution 1325 (2000), which had been adopted when Namibia had held that body’s rotating presidency.  He called for a recommitment to that historic text, which highlighted the plight of women in conflict and their necessary role in the peacemaking process.  To that end, the establishment of UN Women as a dedicated entity was welcomed and he hoped it would strengthen the Organization’s capacity to bring equality to women.

For many years, he said, Namibia had been urging that the United Nations system undergo reform, and in particular for the Security Council be to be more representative, democratic and accountable.  That Africa remained the only region not permanently represented in that body was evidence that improvement was called for.  Peace and security was a collective responsibility, he observed, and Namibia would continue its efforts towards that end.  He encouraged the Assembly to “join hands” so a better world could be built.

BHARRAT JAGDEO, President of Guyana, said the United Nations had been founded out of noble ambitions grounded in timeless values of peace, equality and justice.  But, if those values were to mean anything, the world body must be given life through meaningful and practical responses to the contemporary challenges people faced.  And though such challenges were many, he noted three of specific concern:  the global efforts to halve poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals; fallout from the financial crisis that threatened to undo much of the progress made over the past decade; and a climate crisis that endangered entire nations.

Specifically on the Millennium Goals, he said that, though some progress had been made:  “We have not connected the rhetorical support from the developed world for their achievement to actual delivery.”  Indeed, at times, it felt like the international system set out to put hurdles in the path of its own efforts to overcome shared challenges.  Inconsistencies and lack of coherence between aid, trade and climate, to name a few, created difficulties for developing countries seeking progress.

As such, he called on the United Nations to establish a set of global accountability indicators to transparently monitor whether members of the international community were pursuing policies that, in a holistic sense, helped them to discharge their global responsibilities.  Through the Goals, he said, “I believe that we will see that better accountability, properly understood, can help us to rise to the challenges we face.”

He went on to highlight the need to protect and preserve the environment.  One major downside of the ongoing destruction of the planet’s natural habitats was that it removed the bedrock of future medical advances.  Moreover, such recklessness affected all people:  a ton of carbon emitted in Africa or Asia threatened the citizens of the smallest village in North America.  Failure to appreciate the need for a joint global response to climate change and loss of biodiversity was not just an abdication of responsibility to some intangible global good; it evinced a very real and measurable threat to all citizens.

Continuing on that topic, he noted the failure to reach agreement on the future of the Kyoto Protocol in Copenhagen this past December, and he continued to hold that the international community needed a legally binding global climate treaty.  In the absence of such an instrument, he proposed holding the developed world accountable to the commitments made regarding the immediate short-term ramp-up of financing for climate action in the developing world.  He also proposed solving the “vexed” issue of an effective financial transfer mechanism and considering scaling up meaningful sectoral responses that worked in the short-term.

“I want to emphasize that none of this is about asking the developed world to provide us with aid,” he said, adding:  “It is about insuring that capital to address climate change is allocated where it can have the biggest impact.”  He touched on other topics, including the Copenhagen Accord, saying that even countries that did not associate themselves with the Accord should hold the developed world accountable.  He concluded by saying that the United Nations, despite its many limitations, was “our best hope for the advancement of humanity”.

AHMED ABDALLAH SAMBI, President of Comoros, said that he wished to devote most of his address to the three-decade-old dispute with France over the Comorian Island of Mayotte, and he hoped there would be greater understanding and active solidarity concerning this matter.  The future and lasting stability of Comoros depended on a final solution to that issue, he said, thanking the African Union, Arab League, and Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) for their unwavering support.

Recalling numerous United Nations resolutions confirming the legitimacy of Comoros’ claim to Mayotte, he said France refused to comply with those texts and continued to violate the principle of inviolability of colonial borders.  That international legal principle stipulated that attempts to destroy the national unity of a country were incompatible with the United Nations Charter.

For many years, Comoros had reported the matter to the international community and had made known its willingness to search for a fair solution, but the response had been crushing, he said, underscoring “illegal” measures taken by France, including the imposition of a visa requirement on the people of Comoros wishing to go to Mayotte.  France had also initiated a process for making Mayotte a “department” in terms of international law.

He said that Comoros had agreed to establish a working group to discuss equitable solutions to these problems and Mayotte had developed a proposal titled, “One Country, Two Systems” – which would be a compromise ensuring respect for international law, allow France to administer Mayotte during a certain period determined by common consent, and enable the people of Mayotte to preserve their social status and standard of living – but France had shown no positive response.

Comoros was, therefore, obliged to ask the United Nations to require France to adhere to international law and United Nations resolutions regarding Mayotte and reconsider its position, he said.  Not only was the future of Comoros at stake, but the honour of France, as well as that of the United Nations, whose credibility would be sorely challenged were international law to be simply disregarded and the territorial integrity of Comoros violated.

He reiterated Comoros’ support for the efforts of the international community and United States President Barack Obama to bring peace to the Middle East, saying that Palestinians wanted to live in an independent State.  Comoros also wanted to contribute to efforts made to end fratricidal conflict in areas such as Sudan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Democratic Republic of the Congo and the wider Great Lakes region, he said.  Additionally, Comoros supported Morocco and its proposal for autonomy as a political and definitive compromise solution over the Moroccan Sahara.

CARLOS MAURICIO FUNES CARTAGENA, President of El Salvador, said his country was among the many nations beset by serious problems, most notably poverty and injustice, and was not able to meet its expected Goals.  “The more a ruler worries about the tragedy of his people, the greater the responsibility he has when reviewing its goals,” he said.  While the United Nations agenda called for the reduction of poverty, the gap between rich and poor countries - and between the rich and poor within the countries - had prevailed over its good intentions.  The recent killing of 72 migrant workers in Tamaulipas, including 14 Salvadorians, revealed the magnitude of the tragedy that found itself in Mexico and Central America, but affected the world.  The tragedy, he said, was generated by three trends:  lack of opportunity, exclusion, and widespread injustice facing Salvadoran youth; migration; and violent crime and the serious business of organized crime.

He noted that El Salvador was home to 6 million people, with 3 million more living in the United States.  The United Nations Charter, however, does not guarantee humans rights to migrants.  Therefore, the 200 million migrants, mostly young people, that left their countries for a better life, also left behind their basic human rights.  That injustice underscored the lack of global initiative needed to address poverty and injustice in Central America.

Change required action, he stressed.  A prison State that mobilized police to combat crime could resolve its problems, but it would be a historic mistake to not address the root cause.  “A crazy person is that who does the same thing but expects different results,” he said, paraphrasing Albert Einstein.  He noted that his region was not the main consumer of drugs or the major recipient of drug money.  Nevertheless, the international community must wage a good battle against organized crime, money-laundering and drug cartels, but he stressed that it must not abandon Mexico or Central America.

The region needed investments in economics, intelligence and support for training or combating crime, in addition to assistance in creating new social and regional policies.  He proposed a committee to combat organized crime that was similar to one established in Guatemala with the support of the United States, Canada and Spain.  In addition, State organizations had been infiltrated by organized crime and means must be made available to continue to battle it.

The creation of the Central American IntegrationSystem had helped to create strong societies in the region, he said, and his country was moving forward.  The Government had created a special body to fight corruption, El Salvador’s worst enemy, and one that poisoned policies that assisted the poor.  It was also working to reduce the number of youth gangs that had become widespread and complex.  El Salvador had a good record of fighting crime and drugs; however, without institutions to fight organized crime, it would not be possible for the country to meet its challenges.

In closing, he said El Salvador was waging a war, but it was not the war of the past.  His country faced a powerful sophisticated enemy that had blended into its society.  Fighting that war would require weapons and help from the global community.  Quoting former United States President John F. Kennedy, he said:  “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.”

TOOMAS HENDRIK ILVES, President of Estonia, focused on three pressing global matters:  progress towards the Millennium Development Goals; promoting peace and security; and humanitarian affairs.  Over the past decade, the Goals had triggered a level of commitment and wide-ranging partnership never before seen.  There had been setbacks, but achieving the Goals was nevertheless an attainable reality with concrete targets and deadlines.  The targets could only be reached if everyone shared responsibility and pushed in the same direction.

Moreover, he said the political will expressed by most stakeholders at the recent Summit and its outcome document needed to be implemented promptly.  Estonia was ready to provide continuous contributions towards achievement of the Goals through focused development cooperation with its partner countries.  He went on to say that the development of information and communications technology had been a crucial engine of economic development and modernization for Estonia over the past 20 years.  Its experts advised Governments on infotech solutions in many parts of the world and, in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Open Society Institute, it had established an academy to assist developing-country Governments in its use.

The more the digital gap was reduced, the more accelerated and more sustainable overall economic progress would be.  He also commended United Nations efforts towards more efficient operations, especially the long-awaited system-wide coherence negotiations.  The establishment of UN Women would be an extra boost for meeting the Goals, and Estonia pledged support to the new agency.  On other issues, he said that with 15 military and 12 political operations, the United Nations peacekeeping force was clearly stretched thin.  Further reforms were needed to help advance effectiveness of peacekeeping operations and encourage regional actors to assume a stronger role.

For the past 10 years, Estonia had contributed to the peacekeeping budget at a voluntarily enhanced rate, and it would continue to do so.  All Member States equally shared responsibility to apply principles enshrined in the Charter, he said, including refraining from any threat or use of force against any State.  Estonia reiterated its firm support for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and stability of Georgia, based on adherence to international law.  It was necessary to continue with the Geneva talks in their initial format for peace resolution of the conflict and humanitarian issues, particularly return of refugees and wider access to the conflict zone needed to be seriously addressed now.

Estonia was finalizing a national action plan to enhance protection of women and girls, and was a strong and principled advocate of human rights.  It supported the strengthening of the Human Rights Council, which it aspired to join in 2010.  Estonia had continuously increased its contribution to United Nations humanitarian activities, but saw that more combined efforts were needed securing the link between relief efforts and development work.  He said increasingly frequent violations of humanitarian principles in conflict zones also concerned Estonia, and increased efforts for security of humanitarian aid workers was needed.  As a European Union member, Estonia also believed the Lisbon Treaty enhanced the Union’s ability to secure peace, stability and prosperity for all.  With that shared commitment, he expected the vital role of the United Nations to be further reinforced.

BENIGNO S. AQUINO III, President of the Philippines, noted that each leader appearing before the Assembly represented not just the well-being of his or her people, but was also called upon to be responsive members of the “community of nations”.  Due to the nature of globalization, the problem of one country posed a problem to another, and thus any solution could not be developed in a vacuum.  It was clear, then, for “humanity to progress, all nations must progress as one”.

Quoting one of his predecessors, he said, “Those who have less in life should have more in law.” Thus, a compassionate response to those in need was humane and necessary.  The struggle to combat inequality and the gap between the powerful and powerless were challenges still to be resolved.  That was evident in the area of climate change, where man-induced climatic conditions most impacted those who “did little to cause it”.  He called for support for the countries most vulnerable to climate change in building climate-resilient communities, reconstruction and disaster risk-reduction, to name a few, and for those major economies to significantly reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.

Continuing, he said that achieving the Millennium Development Goals would only happen when national resolve was supported by bilateral, regional and multilateral cooperation.  A strengthened regulatory system would only be possible under Governments that allowed private enterprise while ensuring social responsibilities.  His own country had made a pledge in that regard:  “to channel the gains we might reap from public-private partnership into social services, like those in health, education and poverty alleviation”.  In balancing the responsibility to one’s own people and to their regions and the global community, he observed a rethinking of traditional methods and concepts, and a shift of focus within the global system, where no one would be left behind.

While the Philippines were recipients of aid and support, his country would not stay entirely dependent on “the largess of the developed world”, but, in fact, would be active in its own development through its efforts in the Group of 77 and initiatives to enhance South-South cooperation and collective economic interests, he said.  His country’s history showed that nothing was impossible when the people united as a “people power”, and he expressed hope that, through dialogue, solidarity and communal responsibility, a “people power” towards equitable progress would be achieved.

FILIP VUJANOVIĆ, President of Montenegro, noted that as the youngest member of the United Nations, the nation had proved to be a reliable partner and had ensured the quality of its reforms.  He welcomed the adoption of the General Assembly resolution on system-wide coherence and the timely initiative of the General Assembly to put on the agenda of this year’s general debate the reaffirmation of the central role of the United Nations in global governance.

Regarding Montenegro’s foreign policy priorities, namely European and Euro-Atlantic integrations, he noted that the nation harmonized its policy with the European Union foreign policy approach, taking into account specific national interests.  “Our best contribution is to continue to have a constructive role as a factor of stability in the international community, especially in the Western Balkans and South-East Europe.”  He expressed support for United Nations efforts to implement the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, as well as for its efforts to fight corruption, organized crime, illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and trafficking in human beings.  He also underlined his appreciation for United Nations peacekeeping missions, saying “a decades-long experience in peacekeeping operations confirmed the justification and relevance of this concept and strategic policy of the UN”.  Montenegro was continuously enhancing its participation.

Recognizing the crucial importance of the Millennium Declaration and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, Montenegro supported the implementation of all of the Organization’s relevant strategies and programmes, he said.  As a country in the process of the European integration, Montenegro also supported partnerships between the European Union and Africa, as well as all efforts to solve development challenges and poverty eradication on that continent.  Regarding climate change and its adverse effects, his country was fully committed to finding a common response in accordance with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.  In order to fashion its own response to that global issue, Montenegro had established a regional forum in the country to deal with the challenges and prevention of climate change at national and regional levels.

YOWERI KAGUTA MUSEVENI, President of Uganda, first noted that he did not attend the Millennium Development Goals Summit.  His country would, however, “definitely achieve” Goal 1 (eradication of extreme poverty and hunger), Goal 2 (achieving universal primary education), Goal 3 (promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women), Goal 7 (ensuring environmental sustainability), and Goal 8 (developing a global partnership for development).  Uganda might not achieve the targets set out in Goals 4 and 5 (child and maternal health) by 2015.

Efforts had been undertaken to achieve Goals 4 and 5, he said, pointing to the development of a national road map to accelerate the reduction of maternal and child mortality and morbidity.  Also, the country had prioritized four key interventions:  effective antenatal care, skilled attendance at birth, emergency care for women with childbirth complications, and family planning.  Moreover, it also prioritized infrastructure to strengthen the health-care system.  Tremendous efforts had been made to achieve Goal 6 (combat HIV/AIDS), and Uganda was renewing its efforts to address the epidemic.

He noted that his country had recently ranked among the middle in the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Human Development Index.  Uganda did not believe in donor-anchored attainment of the Millennium Development Goals as a sustainable solution, but rather believed that achievement of the Goals should be rooted in the growth and transformation of the economies of target countries.  For that reason, he was glad that the opinions of “Afro-pessimists” were finally “being consigned to where they have always belonged – on the dung heap of history”.

Some Western groups had begun to talk of African “lions”, trying to equate the performance of African economies to that of Asian “tigers” of the past.  Groups such as McKinsey Global Institute were beginning to group African economies into four categories:  diversified economies; oil-exporting economies; transition economies; and pre-transition economies.  While he stressed that McKinsey should improve its statistical base and some of its insights, he recognized that it was among the first Western groups to recognize what African countries already knew was possible.

He said that, although 53 African economies were being managed by respective national authorities, they sometimes shared reform trends and ideas.  Estimates projected that the consumption level of Africa would grow to $1.4 trillion by 2020.  In that regard, African economies had become “roaring lions”, underdeveloped infrastructure notwithstanding.  What would happen when the infrastructure bottlenecks were resolved? he asked.  What would happen when there was cheap and abundant electricity, cheap road transport and cheap rail transport?  Those areas had long been neglected.

If development partners concentrated on assisting infrastructure development, Africa’s transition would be that much faster, he said.  Aid in relevant sectors was welcome.  The economic reawakening of Africa was a strong building block that would strengthen the United Nations.  “ Africa has been a weak link in the chain of the struggle for improved governance in the world over the last 50 years.  Improved economic performance in Africa is, therefore, good for herself and also good for the rest of the world,” he declared.

CHOUMMALY SAYASONE, President of Lao People’s Democratic Republic, said increasing natural catastrophes and the economic crisis had made national challenges a something a single country or even a group of countries cannot alone overcome.  Therefore, it was critical for all United Nations Member States to enhance cooperation in a sincere and trustworthy manner, avoiding taking advantage of one another.  The use and proliferation of weapons in all forms would undoubtedly have long-term impact on people’s lives and impede national development efforts.

The Lao People’s Democratic Republic continued to suffer the consequences of wars that ended several decades ago, which contaminated 30 per cent of its soil with unexploded ordnances that killed and injured innocent people and constituted a major constraint achieving national objectives and the Millennium Development Goals.  He went on to say that it was a great pride that his country had played an active part in the Oslo Process which led to adoption of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

He said Lao People’s Democratic Republic would closely cooperate with the international community to ensure the Convention was fully implemented, and was hosting in November the First Meeting of State Parties to that instrument.  He extended a cordial invitation to all United Nations Member countries, international organizations and non-governmental organizations concerned to play an active part to ensure a successful outcome of the Conference.  Cooperation among South-East Asian countries had steadily expanded to contribute to the narrowing of the development gap.

Timely measures by the Government over the past years had steadily progressed socio-economic development, he said.  The economy had grown at an average of 7 per cent annually, poverty continuously declined and livelihoods of the multi-ethnic population had gradually improved.  Nevertheless, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic remained challenged by the global financial and economic crisis and, like other developing countries, required assistance and support from the international community to enable it to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

The Lao People’s Democratic Republic also needed support to reach the ultimate goal of quitting the status of a Least Developed Country by 2020.  The Laotian Government reiterated its firm commitment to work closely with other countries to build a peaceful world under a just and more democratic new order, based on cooperation tackling various global challenges.  Only through genuine partnership could the world be peaceful and prosperous.

MARCUS STEPHEN, President of Nauru, said that, while they had gathered to reaffirm the role of the United Nations in global governance, the United Nations report card was mixed.  Although the United Nations had brought attention to the vulnerabilities of the small island developing nations, it had not always succeeded in delivering concrete benefits.  For this reason, Nauru had relied more on its domestic institutions and bilateral partners rather than multilateral governance solutions.  “ Nauru turned a corner in 2005 when it adopted its National Sustainable Development Strategy,” he said, noting that the country now had a more transparent financial system and accountable Government, expanded public health programmes, new and refurbished schools, more reliable power usage, and improved travel and communications systems.

Because the remaining medium- and long-term objectives of the national development strategy complemented the Millennium Development Goals, he expressed hope that the United Nations could play a more significant role in the next phase of Comoros’ development and that the United Nations Joint Presence Office, which had opened in Nauru, could be more responsive to the country’s unique development challenges.  The future of the people of Nauru depended on an effective United Nations system, but none more so than the youth.  Economic crises and the explosion of global fuel and food, exacerbated by Nauru’s isolated location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, had a lasting impact particularly on the youth who grew up during that time.  Nauru had made investing in its youth a top priority and was on track to reach the Millennium Development Goals of universal primary education by 2015, despite a shortage of quality teachers.

Nauru’s health sector, which he named as another area fundamental to the well-being of its youth, had also made gains in curative diseases and preventative health programmes.  However, approximately 75 per cent of people in the Pacific suffered from non-communicable diseases, so investments in public health needed to be accompanied by improved food security.  To also create a growing economy in which the youth could further deploy its skills, Nauru needed to look to its development partners and multilateral institutions for assistance in building its basic infrastructure and re-establishing its banking and financial services.

He also called for the creation of a formal “SIDS” category within the United Nations system, which would make the Organization more responsive to the particular needs of small islands and lead to sustainable development. Underlining the environmental crisis and threat of climate change, he said that Nauru, along with other island countries in the Pacific, recently strengthened the Nauru Agreement on oceans governance and managing regional tuna stocks, which was essential to the region’s food security and economic development.

VALDIS ZATLERS, President of Latvia, recalling the United Nations creation from the ashes of the bloodiest war in history, said it had grown into the most broadly represented body of nations focused on promoting security, peace and prosperity.  This year also marked Latvia’s twentieth anniversary of freedom after 50 years of Soviet occupation, a story that showed that the values enshrined in the Charter were universal and, with persistence, came alive, even if decades demanded it.

Many global issues required urgent action, he said, noting that work to reach the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 had not been sufficient.  A new consciousness was emerging from awareness of the negative impacts of climate change, and the response to a rising number of natural disasters must be twofold:  adapting to future changes and taking preventive measures through reducing emissions.  Every country had to contribute, and within the framework of the Copenhagen Accord, Latvia was providing assistance to help developing nations fight climate change.  It also had pledged an additional €150,000 for Haiti’s recovery and would continue to help countries affected by tragedy.

As for strengthening the United Nations, a cause Latvia had always supported, he said in times of globalization and rapid development, reform was an inevitable reality, and he urged maximizing the effectiveness and efficiency of the United Nations work.  Commending its work on women’s empowerment, he said the tenth anniversary this fall of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) would provide an opportunity to review the document’s implementation, with the aim of identifying best practices and challenges.

He said the Human Rights Council had shown its ability to advance human rights, notably through the independent work of the Special Procedures and Universal Periodic Review.  Improvements were needed, however, but he was confident that the process would lead to a strengthened institution with increased credibility.  Turning to peace and security, he praised the positive momentum created at the recent Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, expressing hope that every diplomatic opportunity would be used to find a long-term solution to the Iranian and North Korean nuclear issues.  He also supported the nuclear security discussion initiated by the United States, saying that promising signs on the global agenda had positively influenced Europe’s security and fostered the debate on its conventional regime.

In other regions, he said efforts in the Middle East by the diplomatic Quartet and the unity of the Arab States would be decisive in ensuring a continued peace process.  Welcoming the launch of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, he urged that they be supplemented by others on the Israel-Syria and Israel-Lebanon tracks.  In Afghanistan, he commended the work of the Independent Election Commission, and said it was of the highest importance that the Afghan Government corrected irregularities caused by the harsh security and political climate.  Central Asian stability was another key factor to success.  Latvia was placing more emphasis on training Afghan security forces and, in June, had trained Afghan police officers in criminal investigation.

Deeming the European Union an important partner in the United Nations, he recalled that the bloc had changed through the Lisbon Treaty, and he expressed hope that agreement would soon be reached to ensure its participation in the Assembly.  In the aftermath of the economic slowdown, Latvia was showing signs of recovery.  “We are on the way up,” he said, noting that global financial governance would be essential to avert another crisis.  He highly valued initiatives put forward in that regard by the Group of 20 (G-20), among other forums.

GJORGE IVANOV, President the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, said the global economic and financial crisis was a challenge which could set back progress made in implementing the Millennium Development Goals.  The United Nations and its Member States had dealt with those challenges successfully, through the use of adequate solutions that had been quickly identified and implemented in a cooperative manner.  National and global security and prosperity rested on the foundation of solid economics, a sound financial system and social security.  Five years ahead of the deadline to meet the Goals, the world must not yield, even in light of the decelerated pace of implementation.

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia remained strongly committed to fulfilling the Millennium Goals and had incorporated them into its national legislation and strategies for economic and sustainable development, he said.  Climate change was a serious threat to the planet, and recent natural disasters and humanitarian catastrophes showed that the planet reacted to the “irresponsible attitude of humanity towards nature”.  The struggle to preserve nature must be declarative, globally led and present within every community, town and State.  There must be a common, worldwide fight to preserve human life in harmony with the needs of the planet.

His country was ready to adequately contribute to all efforts to tackle international challenges.  The Government had undertaken several initiatives with a focus on raising awareness, education and culture on reducing electricity use, promoting the use of alternative energy and the reduction of harmful emissions.  The world unfortunately still faced daily peace and security challenges.  In certain regions, there remained age-old “frozen conflicts” and new tensions were emerging.  The consequences of the global financial and economic crises, as well as the slow pace of implementing the Millennium Goals, had a serious impact on such tensions.  He declared: “Only by promoting peace, human rights and rule of law with dialogue and tolerance can we make the world a just and fair place to live in”.

With regard to restoring the Organization’s role in global governance, he said that his country supported joint efforts to improve the overall coherence of the United Nations system.  The functioning of the Organization needed to be redefined so that it could respond to the demands and priorities of all Member States.  He called for the creation of a highly functional global governance organization, one in which there were no overlapping mandates.  Moreover, it should strive for maximum effectiveness with the appropriate and transparent use of existing resources.

Since gaining its independence, his country had been committed to substantial reforms in all areas and aimed at promoting democracy.  Its achievements in that regard were internationally recognized, as his country expected a date for opening accession negotiations with the European as well as an invitation to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).  Furthermore, his country was working to resolve its differences with Greece within the framework of mechanisms established by United Nations resolutions.

He declared that his country would do everything in its capacity to nurture close and friendly relations with neighbouring Greece and its people.  A solution could be reached only if the United Nations Charter, its resolutions and international law were respected.  He had met yesterday with the Greek Prime Minister with the goal of creating an atmosphere of mutual trust and understanding.  He hoped to find a mutually acceptable solution.

GILBERT FOSSOUN HOUNGBO, Prime Minister of Togo, said that the theme of the General Assembly in reaffirming global governance translated into the aspirations of Togo and other developing countries.  Because the United Nations must remain at the heart at multilateralism, Security Council reform was essential to establish democracy and equality, and assure appropriate response to the challenges confronting the global community.

On a national level, Togo’s search for better governance, peace, freedom and justice, and to “turn the page on dark days” once and for all, had come to fruition, he said.  The 2006 signing of a global political agreement had made it possible to establish a Government of National Unity, and in 2007, to hold a fair and free election, absent violence for the first time.  Those developments had led to a pluralist assembly, and reforms were now being implemented.  Furthermore, the creation of a security force for the presidential elections had been trained in international standards and had fulfilled its task throughout.  The 2010 elections, heralded by the international community, had been peaceful and democratic.

Moreover, he said, the President’s appeal for all to take part in nation-building had resulted in an historical political agreement between the opposition, the Union of Forces for Change and the majority of the President, and for the first time, the Union had entered the Government with seven ministerial posts, after 40 years of fighting.  The Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission, which would be focusing on the political violence that had occurred between 1958 and 2005, was currently taking depositions.

Togo would work devotedly towards stability and peace, and sustainable development as outlined in the Millennium Development Goals, he said.  Now that it had become “reconciled with itself”, his country looked forward to renewing bilateral partnerships and to entering into international cooperation.  However, even with the positive signs of world recovery, stabilization was still “perilous and uncertain”.  The new problem of climate change had wrought floods, droughts, and landslides, and thus had negatively impacted international growth and development, particularly with the least developed countries.  Yet, despite all the evidence of the climate change problem, the world’s nations had still hesitated to reach an agreement in Copenhagen.  Towards that goal, he stressed that “the time for speeches is over.  It is time to act and to act now.”

EMIL BOC, Prime Minister of Romania, stressed the importance of tackling climate change.  Negotiations in Cancun and thereafter, and building upon the Copenhagen Accord, must pave the way for timely adoption of a comprehensive, legally binding post-Kyoto agreement.  As President of the Commission on Sustainable Development, Romania would strongly support international efforts towards that goal.  Romania knew very well from its own past the negative impact on long-term development prospects of the lack of genuine democracy, human rights and freedoms.  Democracy began with a basic step: free and fair elections.  Electoral processes could be improved and States must be ready to accept that.  Out-of-country voting was sensitive and challenging.  Romania worked in cooperation with the United Nations Division for Electoral Assistance, European institutions and the Community of Democracies to develop knowledge and codify best practices in that field.  He hoped that the results of Romania’s first seminar on that topic this past summer would be shared widely.

Over the past few years, Romania had played an active role in various international forums to combat racism, radicalism and xenophobia, he said.  It was an active proponent of diversity and multiculturalism, as well as intercultural and religious dialogue, in the framework of the Alliance of Civilizations.  In Europe, there had been much talk lately about the Roma population on issues of discrimination, social inclusion and safeguarding fundamental rights and freedoms.  The European Union had proven capacity to adapt and ultimately solve such issues.

Conflict prevention and peacebuilding were priorities in today’s world, he said, and he noted that Romania had substantially contributed to United Nations civilian and military missions and had started to develop dedicated civilian capacities in stabilization and post-conflict reconstruction.  A few weeks ago, Bucharest had hosted an international conference to officially open the Romanian Training Centre for Post-Conflict Resolution.

The international community must reaffirm its determination to fulfil the goals of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), he said, expressing concern over the attacks that tried to derail the recent legislative elections there.  He firmly supported the continued involvement of the United Nations and the international community in reconstructing Iraq.  Romania continued to uphold the United Nations mandate in Kosovo.  While respecting the International Court of Justice’s advisory opinion on Kosovo, Romania believed that it did not examine the core issue — the legality of the creation of an allegedly new State.  Unilateral secession was not possible under international law, and Romania did not recognize Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence.

Romania remained concerned with protracted conflicts in the extended Black Sea area and South Caucasus, he said.  While solutions to those conflicts continued to be explored in the agreed formats, they must be monitored by the larger United Nations membership.  Georgia was a top Romanian priority, and the United Nations must continue to play an important role.  Full implementation of the mandate of the European Union monitoring mission, by deploying it throughout Georgia, was conducive to a lasting solution there.  He supported the Middle East peace process and the adoption of the final document of the May Review of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.  He welcomed creation of UN Women.

STEPHENSON KING, Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, zeroed in on two critical factors facing the development of the small island development States: global climate change and the uncertain economic and financial crisis.  Like all Member States of the Caribbean Community, Saint Lucia was committed to achieving an ambitious, just and legally binding agreement to address climate change, which meant that the countries most responsible for carbon dioxide emissions took the steps to reduce their emissions and provided adequate financial resources for the development and transfer of technology for both adaptation and mitigation to the most seriously affected countries.  Without sufficient financial and personnel resources to correct the negative impact of climate change, developing countries would have to divert funding from poverty alleviation programmes.  The World Bank estimated that the annual impact of potential climate change on all Caribbean Community countries would be approximately 11.3 per cent of total gross domestic product (GDP).  He urged development partners to make a firm, collective commitment to provide new and additional resources and not to renege on prior promises.

Turning to global economic issues, he said the international economy’s quick return to sustained growth was the other critical factor in the development of small island developing States.  Weakened prospects for growth in the United States and Europe could impede growth in emerging markets, as exports and investment flows slowed.  The United States and the European Union were also major sources for tourism, agricultural trade, ODA, foreign direct investment and remittances, the mainstay of Saint Lucia’s economy.  As a small island developing country with an open economy, Saint Lucia had been hit hard by the global finance and economic crisis and that had had led to a contraction in its GDP, increased unemployment and a weakened fiscal position.  To mitigate those economic shocks, Saint Lucia had implemented several measures to protect its most vulnerable people.  That had included the creation of short-term employment programmes, the suspension of import duties and other taxes on basic consumer items, controls on the mark-ups of retail products and profit margins on some basic food items and provisions for limited price subsidies on basic commodities for vulnerable groups.  The Government was also developing a medium-term development strategy plan for 2011-2016 to lay down the blueprint for the development of new sources of economic growth, such as health and wellness tourism and high-end technology.  It wanted to expand critical sectors, such as tourism, agriculture and manufacturing.  The international community’s support was necessary for Saint Lucia and all small island developing States to fulfil sustainable development goals and meet all the Millennium Goals by 2015.

Turning to security issues, he said the international community must find solutions to the use of illegal firearms and the uncontrolled illicit drug trade.  Saint Lucia was perplexed by the closure of the United Nations Office for Drug Control (UNODC) office in the Caribbean and called for a reassessment of that decision.  He also called for a comprehensive arms trade treaty, alongside the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.  He asked the Assembly to support the desire of the “Republic of China ( Taiwan)” to collaborate with the world by participating in international organizations.  The political embargo against Cuba was an anachronism that had been put in place to deal with a political issue and now was being used for economic strangulation.  “Our region is diverse, but our aspirations are common.  Only mutual respect will foster that relationship that is so necessary and vital to the development of our region”, he said.

MURRAY MCCULLY, Minister for Foreign Affairs of New Zealand, said his country’s future was closely tied to that of Europe, and Asia and the Pacific.  In addition to its indigenous Maori, its remaining population was a mix of people from those regions.  New Zealand was focused on the security and development of the South Pacific, the region to which it belonged.  It was gravely concerned that its region was second only to sub-Saharan Africa in terms of lack of progress towards achieving some of the Millennium Goals.  “We want to see the Millennium Development Goals achieved, and we want to see the wider Pacific prosper through good governance and sustainable economic development,” he said.

To that end, his country had increasingly deployed its resources in its region, he said, affirming that New Zealand would continue to increase its level of development assistance, despite its economic challenges.  However, money alone was not enough, and he underscored the need for aid effectiveness, donor coordination and good governance.   Events of the past year, such as an earthquake in Christchurch — the most destructive in 80 years — had reinforced the need for better disaster management.  His country’s experience with major earthquakes had taught it how to mitigate risks, and it was working with the United Nations, non-governmental organizations and other international organizations to share those lessons.

Turning to the issue of security, he noted that peacekeeping was a key responsibility of the United Nations.  New Zealand was committed to supporting global security, and had been engaged in several peacekeeping and peace-support operations since the 1940s.  His people were among those affected by terrorism, he said, pointing to the need to address the conditions in which terrorism thrived and respond to those who perpetuated such atrocities as the 11 September 2001 attacks.  He strongly supported peacekeeping reform; the surge in peacekeeping since 1990 had opened up a discussion on the way the United Nations conducted its peacekeeping operations.

He said that in order to effectively counter terrorism and maintain peace and security, coordinated, collective action was needed, for which the United Nations was best suited.  He welcomed the adoption of the action plan at this year’s Review of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, as well as the Nuclear Security Summit and the entry into force of the Convention on Cluster Munitions as “tangible and practical successes”.  New Zealand was also concerned with global environmental issues, and called for a scientific breakthrough to the challenge of producing more food while reducing emissions.

Although much global economic progress had been made, he said, his country was frustrated that there was still no conclusion to the Doha development round of talks.  He reminded the Assembly that the single most effective step that could be taken to advance the position of the world’s disadvantaged would be to create a framework within which they could trade themselves to a better future.  In conclusion, he strongly endorsed United States President Obama’s statement of yesterday with regard to the conflict between Israel and Palestine.  He asked that Israel heed the international community’s call to extend the moratorium on settlements and enable an atmosphere for direct negotiations to continue.  Resolution of the Palestinian question would “tear out the fuse that threatens to ignite conflict in the Middle East and beyond”.

ÖSSUR SKARPHÉÐINSSON, Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade of Iceland, said his country had been ravaged by the financial crisis last year.  Economic emergency laws had been passed, and fiscal cuts and radical financial reforms had been undertaken.  All efforts, including those undertaken in close cooperation with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), had helped to place Iceland on the road to recovery.  The financial crisis his country faced had brought to light the importance of democracy and human rights, spurring a change in the Constitution to increase the people’s power.  He proudly noted that Iceland had legally ensured full equality for same-sex partnerships, urging other countries to remove all discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Turning to gender equality, he said Iceland was celebrating 95 years since women had gained the right to vote and 30 years since a woman had first been elected as President.  Iceland was saddened by the decision of the Iranian courts to stone to death an Iranian woman, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, and he appealed to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to spare her life.  With regard to climate change, he said its looming impacts put human rights at stake.  Highlighting some examples of that, he called for more drastic action than what had been agreed upon in Copenhagen.  For its part, Iceland had made many contributions to combat climate change.  It had recently engaged in discussions with some big nations operating, for example, in East Africa, to form a partnership for a geothermal drive in countries with unused potential.

Lastly, he noted that human rights could not be addressed without discussing the plight of the Palestinians and the people of Gaza.  Iceland strongly condemned the raid on the flotilla bringing humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, and sympathized with the Palestinians held in occupation by an “oppressing Power”.  He urged Israel not to prevent humanitarian assistance from reaching the needy in Gaza.  He had heard “hidden hope” in United States President Obama’s speech to the Assembly yesterday, and he called on the international community to use every possible, sensible way to demonstrate solidarity with the Palestinian people.

BASILE IKOUEBE, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Congo, spoke of the need for reforms within the United Nations, notably reform of the Security Council’s composition and working methods.  Strengthening the efficiency of the General Assembly should also be on the minds of Member States.  The action agenda produced by the high-level meeting on the Millennium Development Goals was welcomed by Congo, which was committed to achieving them.  Africa as a whole was progressively emerging from a cycle of armed violence, which had upset its evolution towards development and prosperity.  Thanks to the efforts of the African Union, with international support, many conflicts had either ended or were concluding.  It was in that context that this year had been declared the year of peace and security in Africa.

He said there was no doubt that democracy had been taking root in Africa.  In Gabon and Burundi, to cite two States, the will of the people had been expressed, and it was hoped that elections coming up elsewhere, as well as the referendum in Sudan, would unfold in a calm environment.  The opening of a United Nations office in Central Africa would give the subregion an additional instrument to promote good governance and development.  In the same perspective, Brazzaville would be hosting a conference on peace and stability in the subregion from 15 to 19 November, at which participants were expected to underscore their commitment to fight the proliferation of small arms with the signing of the Kinshasa convention.

Good neighbourliness was a pillar of Congo’s foreign policy, the Minister said.  One example was the way in which Congo had dealt with a humanitarian crisis prompted by the arrival of more than 100,000 people from Equateur province in Democratic Republic of Congo.  Biodiversity was another issue of great interest for Congo, which was among the countries incorporating the Congo Basin, an important carbon sink; such tropical forests played a vital role in regulating and stabilising the global climate.  Congo was determined, with its partners, to meet the challenge of conserving and promoting biodiversity.

Congo’s Parliament would shortly be adopting legislation on the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples, he said.  The scheduled visit of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples to Brazzaville in November was an opportunity to focus on issues relating to indigenous peoples.  It would also help to speed up the application of recommendations that had followed last year’s Universal Periodic Review of Congo’s human rights situation.  Congo was a candidate for membership in the Human Rights Council for 2011-2014 and it hoped other States would support its bid.

MARIO CANAHUATI, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of Honduras, said his country had integrated into the world economy, based on the principles of equal rights, self-determination and non-interference in internal affairs.  The Millennium Goal of reducing extreme poverty was ambitious, but it was achievable.  The struggle against poverty required greater collective efforts.  Access to international markets was more important, but not a substitute for ODA.  He stressed the need for greater foreign direct investment in developing countries, access to technology, a reduction in greenhouse gas emission, disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation.  Honduras’ President had made an appeal to begin talks as soon as possible on a new global accord that would guide action on the Millennium Development Goals beyond 2015.  Poverty was not only the lack of material goods, but also the lack of opportunity.  For that reason, Honduras was committed to respecting human dignity, the common good and solidarity.

He said that his country, after extensive consultations with civil society, political parties and other independent sectors, had adopted a national vision and plan, inspired by the Millennium Development Goals.  It aimed to create a nation that was educated, healthy, democratic, secure, non-violent, productive, respected human rights, generated decent employment and managed sustainable use of its resources while reducing its environmental vulnerability, as well as a State that was modern, transparent, responsible, efficient, competitive and independent.

The Honduran Government’s first commitment was to help the country’s extreme poor through the “Bono 10,000” programme, which provided education, health and nutrition, including through a school lunch and other food security programmes, he said.  The Government was committed to decentralization and improving citizen participation in decision-making, monitoring and evaluation of public policy.  Productive programmes such as the United States Millennium Challenge Corporation in Honduras had been enormously beneficial to the population, significantly increasing the income of the farmers participating in the programme.

The Government had also launched a programme to support microfinance and small entrepreneurship, thanks to support from the European Union, Japan and the Taiwan Province of China, he said.  In all those programmes, women were a special beneficiary based on the belief that reducing poverty required ending gender inequality.  The aim was to create decent employment for the more than 200,000 young people entering the labour force annually.  The 2010-2014 national programme promoted investment in job-generating industries, agro-industry and forestry, renewable energy, tourism and infrastructure development, water and sanitation.  Such efforts opened a new era conducive to sustained economic growth.  Honduras had also adopted laws to reduce its vulnerability to natural disasters and climate change.

Despite socio-economic advancement in many areas, Honduras had suffered a political crisis from which it had been able to emerge, on 29 November 2009, when the Honduran people had turned out in force to vote, he said.  Hondurans had exercised their right to self-determination and sent a clear message of their love of democracy and respect for institutions.  Within that spirit, the President had promoted amnesty for political crimes and formed a national unity Government comprising all the country’s political parties.  He also had decreed creation of a truth and reconciliation commission, an independent body that would work to ensure that the 2009 events would never happen again.  He also had proposed the creation of a Secretary of State for Justice and Human Rights.  Honduras condemned all forms of racial discrimination and welcomed the upcoming International Year of Afro-descendants.  It was also creating a body for the promotion and development of indigenous people and for defending racial equality.

Right of Reply

The representative of Iran, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said he wished to clarify two points.  Regarding comments made by the Prime Minister of Kuwait earlier in the day concerning islands located in the Gulf of Persia, he stressed that there was no conflict “whatsoever” over those islands, as they were considered an “eternal part” of Iran that fell under its sovereignty.  Iran would continue to spare no efforts to strengthen its “neighbourly and brotherly relations” with all its neighbouring countries, he said.

He then turned to what he called “bizarre comments” made by the Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom earlier about the speech made by the President of Iran the day before.  The representative pointed out that his President had “simply raised a number of questions” concerning major events of the past decade, and that such comments made by the United Kingdom’s delegate only added to intolerance and impeded the freedom of expression.  A long time had passed since only a handful of Powers had dictated world opinion.  He also reminded the Assembly that Iran had been one of the first nations to have expressed a clear position concerning the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, as a cowardly and atrocious crime.

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