26 September 2011

General Assembly Debate Considers Global Development at Crossroads, as Least Developed Countries Buckle under Strain of Meeting Most Basic Needs

26 September 2011
General Assembly
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-sixth General Assembly


25th, 26th & 27thMeetings (AM, PM & Night)

General Assembly Debate Considers Global Development at Crossroads, as Least

Developed Countries Buckle under Strain of Meeting Most Basic Needs


Reeling from Economic Downturn, Poorest Nations Pin Hopes on Global Strategies,

Cooperation; Ways Outlined to Ease Horn of Africa Crisis, Enhance Food Security

With some 64 million people living in absolute poverty and the gap between rich and poor nations as wide as ever, global development was at a critical juncture, making it imperative to assist least developed countries meet their most basic needs, whether by opening markets, closing protracted trade agreements or scaling up badly needed humanitarian assistance, senior Government officials said today as the General Assembly continued its general debate.

In a host of areas, there was a need for more international cooperation, said several of the day’s close to 40 speakers.  The economic forces that had hampered global growth had created serious ripple effects for African countries, which were buckling under heavy external debt, deteriorating terms of trade and declining investment and capital flows.  Some voiced hope that the Istanbul Action Programme — a 10-year strategy agreed in May to spur economic growth in the poorest nations — would bring about real change.  Others urged that the long-stalled Doha Round of World Trade Organization negotiations be swiftly concluded.

Nowhere was the need more pressing than in the Horn of Africa, where the most severe drought in 60 years had left 13 million people desperate for food.  Several speakers outlined the ways their Governments were working to alleviate the burden.  Eamon Gilmore, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland, said his country was providing more than $67 million to the area in 2011 and 2012 for humanitarian assistance and measures to enhance food security.

On a regional level, what was even more crucial was sustainable development, said Hailemariam Desalegn, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia.  The Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) was carrying out infrastructure projects and strengthening common endeavours for peace and security.  In Somalia, in close collaboration with the East African Community, the African Union and the United Nations, IGAD had been the “linchpin” in efforts to assist Somalis.  With the extremist Al-Shabaab group driven out of Mogadishu, there was new hope in Somalia, which should be sustained.

More broadly, Yang Jiechi, Minister for Foreign Affairs of China, called for scaling up assistance and stabilizing food and commodity prices.  He argued that developed countries should honour their official development assistance (ODA) pledges, open markets and cancel debt, while developing nations should explore growth models conducive to poverty alleviation.  To spur global economic recovery, priorities should centre on the creation of a fair and inclusive international monetary and financial system that featured louder voices of emerging markets and developing countries.

The world’s poorest nations were not the only ones reeling from the economic downturn, said Theodore Brent Symonette, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Bahamas.  Many small middle-income and ostensibly high-income developing States like the Bahamas continued to grapple with its lingering effects.  Their national efforts must be met with appropriate and urgent global actions to reach internationally agreed development goals, he said, including the implementation of the 2002 Monterrey Consensus, which outlined joint actions for rich and poor countries alike to reduce poverty.  A universal, rules-based and non-discriminatory multilateral trading system was also in order.

In North Africa, a new regional governance structure was needed, based on the integration of the Maghreb Arab Union, the Gulf Cooperation Council and the 2004 Agadir Agreement for an Arab Mediterranean Free Trade Zone, said Taïb Fassi Fihri, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Morocco.  Under the umbrella of the Arab League, it should aim to build a new Arab order focused on human development, economic integration and democratic openness.

Such openness, said Uri Rosenthal, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, should include strong support for the growth of and access to the Internet.  Access should be uncensored and made widely available in all societies.  “Freedom offers the best route to prosperity; it belongs to all of us,” he said, calling for the speedy creation of an environment that was truly enabling for free trade and market access.

Highlighting one thread heard throughout the day, Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office of Brunei Darussalam, said today’s challenges were increasingly being identified in basic human terms.  For ordinary people, physical security meant the rule of law.  Economic security translated to food on the table.  Common ground would be reached when it was shared by the most powerful of industrialized nations and the smallest island communities.

Also speaking today were the Vice-Presidents of Botswana, Maldives, Liberia, Uruguay, Gambia and Uganda.

The Deputy Prime Ministers and Foreign Ministers of Cambodia, Jamaica, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Germany, Oman, Syria, Uzbekistan, Iceland, Algeria, United Arab Emirates, Tajikistan, Monaco, Cuba, Sudan, Sao Tome and Principe, Tunisia, Indonesia, Canada, Liechtenstein, Nicaragua, Congo, Angola, Marshall Islands, Central African Republic, Trinidad and Tobago and Andorra also spoke.

Representatives of Iran, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 9 a.m. Tuesday, 27 September to continue and conclude its general debate.


The General Assembly met today to continue its general debate.


MOMPATI S. MERAFHE, Vice-President of Botswana, said all problems and challenges confronting humanity were capable of being resolved within the letter and spirit of the United Nations Charter and international law.  Each country must do its part to improve the lives of its people by conquering hunger, diseases and illiteracy, and by encouraging respect of human rights and freedoms.  Countries must also respond to natural disasters and various humanitarian situations.  Among other things, he noted the humanitarian situation in the Horn of Africa, which he said deserved the world’s continuing attention.

Paying tribute to South Sudan’s admission as the 193rd United Nations Member State after a seemingly endless bloody civil war, he called for the international community’s full support as that country confronted the challenges of nationhood.  He similarly urged the international community to continue to actively support peace consolidation, national reconciliation and reconstruction in Côte d’Ivoire.  He contrasted these notable strides toward resolving conflicts with other conflict situations — particularly in the Middle East, Somalia and Syria — where peace remained elusive.  Botswana noted the conclusion of the recent Kampala Accord between the President of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government and the Speaker of Parliament and called on all parties to honour their obligation under that agreement. It also called on both the Palestinians and the Israelis to remain engaged in negotiations on the basis of a two-State solution.

He expressed deep concern about States that continued to violate their obligations under their own constitutions, as well as international law, to protect their citizens from armed conflict.  It was unacceptable under any circumstance for a State to use military force against its civilian population.  The world community should spare no effort in protecting civilians from repressive Governments and to hold them accountable for their atrocities.  In that regard, support for the International Criminal Court was crucial to realizing the Rome Statute’s full implementation.  Commending the Security Council on action in Libya, he expressed concern about the delay and procrastination on Syria, where crimes against humanity had been committed and for which the country’s leadership should answer.  He recognized the National Transitional Council as Libya’s interim Administration until an elected Government was in place and welcomed it into the United Nations family.

He said Botswana supported all efforts geared towards assisting the transition of countries from conflict to post-conflict rehabilitation, reconstruction and economic recovery.  He further underlined sustainable development and poverty eradication as critical pillars of the United Nations mandate, stressing that it was unacceptable for children to die from HIV/AIDS or any other preventable diseases because the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) hindered access to affordable education or that populations continued to be exposed to climate change’s dire consequences.  Clearly, more must be done with the collective resources available.  Above all, poverty eradication must remain the centrepiece of all policies and programmes.  At the same time, Botswana was increasingly concerned about the negative trend in negotiations towards a global policy on sustainable development, intended as the outcome document to next year’s United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, “Rio+20”.  He urged a spirit of cooperation including through South-South cooperation to prevail.  Further, Botswana called for the implementation of the Almaty Programme of Action, as well as the conclusion of the Doha round of trade negotiations.

MOHAMED WAHEED, Vice-President of the Maldives, said the world was witnessing the greatest liberation movement since the fall of the Berlin Wall.  What was most striking, he said, was that it was happening in predominantly Muslim countries, demonstrating that the demand for human rights and democracy was universal.  The argument that Islam and democracy could not be united was shown to be a “foolish and patronizing fallacy”.  In the Maldives, a similar revolution had started eight years ago.  Then, in 2008, elections had brought to a close a 30‑year authoritarian regime.  Since then, the country had experienced difficulties in consolidating democracy; it had nonetheless become a safe, stable and successful nation.  “Democracy is a process, not an end goal,” he said.  A successful democracy also needed a free media, strong institutions and a vibrant civil society.  Above all, “we need patience to realize the fruits that democracy brings”.

It was necessary to counter the false perception that people must make a choice between devotion to Islam and the full enjoyment of human rights, he continued.  For that reason, the Maldives intended to organize, in 2012, a major international conference on progressive Islamic jurisprudence and human rights.  There it hoped to renew the concepts of peace and tolerance, coexistence and interfaith harmony that existed in Islam.

The Maldives stood “shoulder to shoulder” with the Palestinian people.  It believed that the time for them to join the international family of nations was long overdue, and welcomed its application for statehood; the Maldives also valued and supported the right of the people of Israel to live in peace and security.  For its part, the Maldives planned to contribute to international peace and security by becoming engaged — for the first time — in United Nations peacekeeping efforts around the world.

Standing just 1.5 metres above sea level, the Maldives was faced with the “clear and present danger” of climate change.  It was likewise becoming evident that the international community needed to be better prepared and equipped to address the challenges of disaster preparedness and response.  Cutting global carbon dioxide emissions to a safer level below 350 parts per million was not just an environmental issue, he stressed, but also an issue of national security and a chance to create new jobs and grow the economy.  The Maldives was, therefore, proud to announce that it would dedicate a minimum of 2 per cent of its Government revenue to renewable energy investments, he said.

Like the Rio Declaration, the objectives defined in the Barbados Programme of Action and the Mauritius Strategy had gone largely unmet, he continued.  Now, as Rio+20 approached, it was critical to include in its agenda a serious review of progress made by the international community to address the sustainable development challenges facing small island developing States, in particular.  He hoped that the Conference would provide a platform and create the necessary impetus to conduct a radical reform of international support of island States.  Moreover, discussions at Rio+20 should be based on three pillars: reform of United Nations support for sustainable development of small island developing States; a political declaration and strategy to give impetus to the roll-out and mobilization of renewable energy and green technologies; and finally, improvements in the integration of sustainable development principles into international and domestic policy at both strategic and project levels.

JOSEPH N. BOAKAI, Vice-President of Liberia, welcoming South Sudan’s admission as the 193rd United Nations Member, said the theme of this year’s debate — mediation — was an opportune choice, since the world continued to be polarized by conflicts that were rooted in political marginalization and socio-economic inequity.  Despite global interdependence, inter-State relations had been constrained by divergent ideological beliefs and structural inequalities, undermining efforts to move as one global community.  The United Nations had a central role in promoting mediation in the pursuit of peace, and the Secretary-General’s good offices were critical to such efforts.

As a post-conflict country, Liberia had benefited from mediation efforts, but more emphasis must be placed on preventive measures, he said.  Mediation should be employed as soon as early warning signs of conflict emerged.  Noting that it had been nearly a decade since the United Nations intervened in Liberia, ending a disastrous 14‑year civil war, he said the Government had devised programmes and policies aimed at lifting Liberians to higher levels of productivity, reviving basic services, restoring infrastructure and re-establishing the rule of law.  “Overall, we are making progress on all these fronts,” he said.  In such work, women’s empowerment and participation had been prioritized.  The Government was also committed to developing programmes to empower youth leadership.

On security sector reform, he noted a focus on building the capacity of the national police, but also expressed deep concern at events in the Mano River Union Basin.  The Peacebuilding Commission and Peacebuilding Support Office had worked with the Government and others in devising the Liberia Priority Plan, which focused on security sector reform, strengthening the rule of law and speeding national reconciliation.  Acknowledging the significant role played by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in maintaining peace and security in the subregion, he said Liberia was poised to hold a democratic election on 11 October 2011, which would test the country’s commitment to democratic governance and peaceful coexistence.  Every action was being taken to ensure the election was free, fair, transparent and credible.

He went on to say that negative economic forces hampered global growth, which had repercussions for African countries, where the crippling effects of external debt, deteriorating terms of trade and declining investment and capital flows were debilitating.  He hoped the Istanbul Action Programme would bring real change for the least developed countries.  Urging collective action to roll back the adverse impacts of rising food prices, he cited Liberia’s “Ending Hunger in Liberia” programme, which aimed to strengthen the agricultural chain.  The “unresolved riddle” in Somalia also presented a challenge to the United Nations, a situation that required urgent action.  On the Middle East, he said dialogue between the parties was the most viable option for ending the stalemate for an independent Palestine, and he called on Israel and Palestine to show a commitment to engaging with each other in dialogue that would achieve the desired two-State solution.  Welcoming the new leadership in Libya, he encouraged the National Transitional Council to restore that country to normalcy.

DANILO ASTORI, Vice-President of Uruguay, said that the principles of international law and the strengthening of multilateralism were not only a moral imperative, but a legal obligation for all States.  Welcoming South Sudan, he also noted that Uruguay had, in March 2011, recognized the State of Palestine.  It believed that all the necessary conditions existed for that recognition to become universal and for the two-State solution, supported by Uruguay since 1947, to become effective.  The Palestinian people had a legitimate and full right to constitute itself as a State; meanwhile, the Jewish people had the undeniable right to live in peace, inhabiting a safe country free of terrorist attacks.  Additionally, he said, Uruguay rejected all coercive measures that violated the principles of the United Nations, such as the economic, trade and financial blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba.

Uruguay was grateful to have been chosen to chair the Human Rights Council.  In the course of that mandate, he said, it intended to promote a new culture of dialogue on human rights – one which favoured cooperation not only between States, but also between the international system and States that needed assistance to improve their human rights situations.  It also hoped to improve the procedures and the application of the Council’s instruments in a non-selective manner and one that avoided double standards.  Uruguay understood that mass atrocities such as genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing could not be ignored.  Always keeping in mind the principle of non-intervention in internal affairs, it acknowledged the State’s primary responsibility to protect its population, as well as the importance of fostering cooperation with States that might require assistance to fulfil that obligation.

With approximately 30 per cent of its operational defence forces devoted to United Nations peacekeeping operations, Uruguay was the main troop contributor as a proportion of its population, and ranked tenth in absolute terms.  It was convinced that the sustainability of those missions would be impossible unless the resources for their operation were seriously reconsidered, and the conditions offered were updated, both in terms of equipment and human resources.  Further, it was committed to the strictest enforcement of mandates on the conduct of field personnel; in cases where unacceptable misconduct had occurred — such as that carried out by five members of Uruguay’s military in Haiti — Uruguay had not hesitated to act “with the utmost severity and rigor”.  Those individuals had been prosecuted by military justice and sentenced to prison terms.  The case has been passed on to the civil justice system as a criminal case.  While respecting due process and the utmost transparency, his Government would stop at nothing to uncover the truth and sanction those responsible.

Regarding mediation and preventive diplomacy, there could be no doubt that the United Nations was the natural place for such work.  However, it could not be ignored that, in practice, that must be complemented by the actions of regional entities and even by countries acting individually.  Uruguay, therefore, supported a larger investment of efforts and resources in the development of such activities.  In the area of climate change, changes in production schemes would be necessary; Uruguay also considered it essential that progress be made in the field of the negotiations on chemicals, particularly mercury.

Further, he continued, the world economy and development were undergoing huge transformations.  Developed countries faced serious difficulties in recovering from a deep economic crisis; emergent economies were playing a role in setting the direction of the world economy; and the need to establish new regulations and global agreements had become more apparent.  In that context, peace and stability could not be achieved without sustainable development.  It was essential that the upcoming Rio+20 conference reach tangible benefits for Uruguay’s citizens, he stressed.  For that to happen, it would be necessary to approach issues related to technology transfer, technical training and financing for developing countries.  Uruguay was particularly concerned with the lack of progress in the negotiations of the Doha Round of the World Trade Organization.  It was essential to eliminate agricultural subsidies, which forced countries that were once self-sufficient to import a large amount of what they consumed.  Stimulating investment to increase production and improve productivity, a successful completion of the Doha Round, as well as the transfer of adequate technology to developing countries, were fundamental to obtaining food security, he said.

Uruguay, as a middle-income country, reiterated the need to discuss a “new cooperation modality or scheme” that took into account the specific development needs characteristic to such countries.  It was committed to the reform process of the United Nations.  It believed that improving global governance was first a domestic issue, within the United Nations system, and was, therefore, satisfied with the results of the Delivering as One Pilot Programme.  Additionally, Uruguay was seeking to hold a non-permanent seat on the Security Council in 2016-2017.

AJA ISATOU NJIE-SAIDY, Vice-President of Gambia, said her delegation was a strong believer in the role of mediation as a conflict prevention mechanism at both the national and international levels.  In the experience of West Africa, mediation produced results and Gambia had consequently instituted an alternative dispute resolution mechanism to settle conflict between and among its peoples and institutions.  As recent conflicts in Guinea and Guinea-Bissau showed, regional ownership of the mediation process was also essential.  Thus, the international community should give priority to mediation in any conflict before using threats of military invasion or outright military intervention.

Although West Africa enjoyed relative peace, spoilers had not given up attempts to derail that peace, she said.  The evils of drug trafficking and the trafficking of illicit goods and arms had reared their heads across the subregion and swift international action must nip them in the bud, before it proved too late.  As those crimes fed on each other and sowed the seeds of terror, economic sabotage, and the collapse of social order, resources must be pooled to boost detection, surveillance, law enforcement and prosecution.  A framework for cooperation was also needed, as was the international community’s support. 

Saluting the leadership of Sudan for implementing the Comprehensive Peace Accord, which led to South Sudan’s independence, she encouraged both sides to invest in their shared future through a negotiated settlement of all pending issues.  She also encouraged Guinea and Niger, after successful democratic transitions, to bury the hatchet and move forward as united peoples.  Gambia called on the international community to provide all the support needed as those countries tried to bring peace and development to their peoples.

Turning to development issues, she said it was evident that Gambia was on track to meet some of the Millennium Development Goals, but continued to struggle to meet others.  International donor support remained the crucial element in its efforts.  The Government had, therefore, embarked on a new Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment which it believed would be generously supported by its partners.  In light of the impact of the continuing financial and economic crisis on least developed countries, it was equally urgent that the implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action be fully supported.  The Gambian Government also called on the emerging economies of the South to enhance their cooperation.  At the same time, meaningful partnerships must be forged across the North and South to bring food security, tackle youth unemployment through education and skill development, and enhance the quality and coverage of healthcare delivery systems.  Moreover, Rio+20 should be about implementing binding commitments.

Voicing support for Libya’s National Transitional Council, she expressed additional support to the Arab League, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Gulf Cooperation Council in finding peaceful resolutions to the conflicts unfolding as part of the “Arab Spring”.  Gambia also saluted the role of the African Union in peacefully ending disputes.  Further, it not only supported but recognized an independent and sovereign Palestinian State within the confines of the 1967 borders.  The Gambian Government condemned those who turned themselves into suicide bombers or conducted inhuman behaviour in the name of Islam, in contravention to that religion’s values and teachings.  It also called on the international community to encourage and support the Syrian Government and people in resolving their internal problems through diplomacy and peaceful means.  Stressing that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict must be addressed without further delay, she added that the United States must lift its sanctions and embargo on Cuba now.  Finally, the United Nations should immediately find a suitable way to allow for Taiwan’s meaningful participation in the specialized agencies and mechanisms, she said.

EDWARD KIWANUKA SSEKANDI, Vice-President of Uganda, said the theme of this year’s general debate — the role of mediation in the peaceful settlement of disputes — was particularly appropriate in light of ongoing conflict situations around the world, including in Africa.  Strategic interventions, such as mediation, were necessary to mitigate conflict situations and avert crises that threatened not only nations, but entire regions with the adverse effects on development and livelihoods.  The Ugandan Government consistently advocated for a strengthened role for subregional and regional organizations in conflict prevention and resolution.  For its part, Uganda had been involved in the Burundi Peace Process, as well as the negotiations led by the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) on the Sudan Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which culminated in South Sudan’s birth and its current participation as an equal partner in the community of nations.

In addition to its contribution through the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), Uganda supported the engagement of the Somali Transitional Federal Government with other actors in the context of the Djibouti Peace Agreement and the Kampala Accord, he said.  To consolidate gains realized on the ground, the United Nations must, with the rest of the world community, urgently support capacity-building in the Somali Transitional Federal Institutions.  It should also deploy the additional authorized 3,000 troops and approve predictable funding mechanisms, along with required aviation assets to the Union’s mission.  More broadly, peace initiatives should be regionally based with strong support from the United Nations.  Peace must sometimes be prioritized before justice.  Peace and reconciliation mechanisms must be set up to heal wounds, and post-conflict recovery and reconstruction programmes should be instituted simultaneously.

Underscoring mediation as a worthwhile investment, he said it cost much less than other options, such as peacekeeping or peace enforcement, while averting the worst consequences of unnecessary war.  Uganda further believed that differences arising between and within countries were best addressed through home-grown solutions.  External influences or interventions did not necessarily offer sustainable solutions to conflict resolution, which tended to contribute to a cycle of destabilization.  Thus, the United Nations, the international community and other actors must fully take into account the interests and concerns of all parties concerned.  Support should be targeted to areas mutually agreed upon with those parties, and should also be timely, adequate and robust.  It was equally important to build and strengthen the mediation capacity of the subregional and regional organizations, he said.

In the specific cases of African conflicts, he underscored Uganda’s preference for peaceful dispute settlement through mediation, rather than military intervention, noting that the African Union had called on the National Transitional Council to establish an all-inclusive transitional Government as proposed in the Union’s road map.  The Ugandan Government believed that Africa should be given the chance to resolve her own conflicts.  It had the strong political will to handle them, and it was imperative that the continent’s partners recognized the existing dispute resolution mechanisms of regional bodies.  He called on the United Nations to fully support Africa in that regard.  He also underlined the role of women in mediation, saying it should be appreciated and enhanced.  Finally, he urged the Israeli and Palestinian parties to urgently resume negotiations in order to reach a two-State solution that will guarantee a durable peace.

HAJI AL-MUHTADEE BILLAH, Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office of Brunei Darussalam, welcoming the reappointment of the Secretary-General and thanking the United Nations volunteers, peacekeepers and agencies for their efforts in extremely difficult situations, said it was a tribute to their work that one of the most complex situations had been resolved this year.  In that context, he welcomed South Sudan as the newest United Nations Member State and commended all parties involved in that process.  He hoped that the same sentiments would soon be expressed to the parties involved in efforts to reach a fair and equitable two-State solution to the situation in Palestine.

On the role of mediation in the peaceful settlement of disputes, he said his country had been guided by the speech given by the Sultan in 1984, when Brunei Darussalam had become a United Nations Member.  That speech had committed Brunei Darussalam to respecting territorial integrity and the principles of dialogue and negotiation in resolving disputes.  “We still adhere to this”, he said, noting that his Government gave practical assistance whenever asked, through peacekeeping and financial contributions, both bilaterally and through United Nations bodies.  More than 25 years after Brunei Darussalam had made its commitments to the United Nations, there was now a new generation coming of age, which had no memory of the global situation that had shaped international policy in the cold war era.  Among the challenges of “this new century” was security in all its forms — political, physical and economic — as well as other challenges that addressed the natural environment, the effects of climate change and sustainable development.

Challenges were increasingly being identified in basic human terms, he said, stressing:  “No mediation can be successful unless the parties involved share common ground.”  “What concerns us is that the dynamics of the twenty-first century have the potential to exclude many from this common ground.”  Unseen global forces — including the market, workplace or decision-making forums — had the potential to destroy any common ground.  For ordinary people, physical security meant the rule of law.  Economic security translated to food on the table.  In all such efforts, the world was well-guided by the United Nations.  Common ground would be reached when it was shared by the most powerful of industrialized nations and the smallest island communities.

HOR NAMHONG, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia, said the fragile global economy faced three major challenges — sovereign debt, slow growth and social instability — and required the implementation of a wide range of policy responses and overdue reforms.  The crisis had reaffirmed the importance of global economic and financial governance reform, including strengthening the role of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).  He said Asia had become an essential partner in the global economy and taken the lead in advancing recovery efforts, pointing to Cambodia’s expected 8.7 per cent growth rate for 2011, which rose after declines in 2008 and 2009.

Although significant successes had been achieved in attaining the Millennium Goals, most developing countries, particularly least developed countries, continued to face huge hurdles on the path to reaching targets.  Continued economic and financial instability, persistently high fuel oil prices, worsening food security and the burden of debt repayment were major challenges for the least developed countries.  For its part, Cambodia was accorded the Millennium Development Goals Award 2010 by the Millennium Development Goals Award Committee in New York for its outstanding achievement of Millennium Goal 6, to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, he said.

Turning to environmental issues, he said climate change was becoming a constant threat, as drought and flooding had become more severe and frequent.  He regretted that many promises made during the Copenhagen and Cancun meetings of the United Nations Climate Change Conference remained undelivered.  The coming Climate Change Conference, in Durban in November, should not be another delusion, he said, but a venue to share the responsibility and to achieve a real breakthrough for facing climate change challenges.  Cambodia had successfully launched the Climate Change Alliance to strengthen national institutions.  His country was also implementing numerous projects within the framework of the United Nations Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (UN-REDD).

Food and energy security were also major issues of global concern, with high fuel prices remaining volatile.  Perhaps it was time to consider establishing a world body comprising major producers and consumers of fuel oil to ensure a reasonable price limit.  A more holistic approach than the current one would be the transfer of relevant knowledge and technology to assist developing countries in exploiting alternative sources of energy.  A balanced approach should be taken, he said, to address the “twin problem” of food and energy security.  Cambodia was doing its part by intensifying rice production and trying to establish an association of rice exporters that, among other things, would contribute to stabilizing the food market and preventing speculation on food prices.

EAMON GILMORE, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland, said “We are living in times of breathtaking change”, much of it good — with scientific and technological progress making real advances — and much of it disturbing, with continued violent conflict and a range of threats to global peace and security.  The United Nations was the constant anchor, as no other organization was as well equipped to develop common answers to the big questions of our time.  With an increasing need for global solutions, the United Nations had the political, moral and legal authority to act and Ireland was deeply committed to the Organization.  Freedom and equality were values that underpinned Ireland’s response to key global and regional challenges.

Indeed, those values were not just words on a page, he said.  In the last year, they had been expressed in North Africa and the Middle East in a million acts of courage and the liberation of people who had stood up to oppression.  The people of the Arab Spring had asserted their basic rights and freedoms:  to choose their own leaders, live freely and openly, and provide a decent life for themselves and their families.  “They should inspire us in the work we do here,” he said.  In that context, he pledged full support to the National Transitional Council as it sought to rebuild Libya and fulfil the democratic aspirations of Libyans.  As for Syria, he said President Bashar al-Assad’s Government appeared “oblivious” to the demands of Syrians for change.  “No leader who refuses to listen to what his people are saying and to act on their clearly expressed desire for peace and reform can expect to remain in power,” he said.

In the Middle East, he said, that unless the deadlock in the Arab-Israeli conflict was broken, opportunities for another generation would be destroyed.  The situation was urgent.  It was more pressing than ever to get negotiations under way that would address all the core issues and culminate in a two-State solution.  Ireland had long advocated the establishment of a sovereign, independent Palestinian State within the 1967 borders and strongly opposed actions that hindered or delayed negotiations, such as attacks on civilians or Israel’s illegal settlement of occupied Palestinian territory.  Palestine had the same right to United Nations membership as any other Member State.  If the borders of Palestine were still a matter for negotiation, then so, by definition, were those of Israel, which was rightly a full Member State.

But United Nations membership would not change the unstable situation on the ground, he said.  The General Assembly would likely be asked to vote on a proposal to admit Palestine as a Member State, or perhaps, as a non-Member observer State, and he expected Ireland to give full support.  “In Ireland, we know from our own experience that peace does not come easily,” he said.  It required compromise.  Israel must halt all settlement expansion and end the blockade of Gaza.  On other issues, he said hunger remained the world’s greatest enemy, as 12 million people were struggling to find food in the Horn of Africa.  Ireland was providing more than $67 million to that area in 2011 and 2012 for humanitarian assistance and measures to enhance food security.  Acting together, with a strong focus on building the productivity of smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa, was also important.  Ireland would also maintain its engagement across all critical areas of the United Nations work, especially peacekeeping, human rights and disarmament.

KENNETH BAUGH, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica, noting that long-standing disputes and pockets of instability and conflict continued to fester around the world, stressed that the United Nations preventive diplomacy and mediation capacities must be strengthened.  Meanwhile, as peace and development were mutually reinforcing and intrinsically linked to growth and prosperity, it was important to consciously strengthen and support the role of the Peacebuilding Commission.  Concerning the resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which was “long overdue”, he stressed that the occupation of the Palestinian territory must end.  Jamaica supported a solution that recognized the Palestinian State within the 1967 borders and assured the security of Israel.  Central to that solution must be Israel’s cessation of settlement building and expansion, and renunciation of violence by the Palestinians.

In the current difficult financial times, developing countries had been forced to make painful policy decisions aimed at recalibrating their economic plans to address immediate challenges — a “balancing act” that could have dire consequences for their most vulnerable.  Two neighbouring countries — Haiti and Cuba — required the attention of the international community; in the case of the latter, the decades-old embargo that had long slowed growth must be lifted.  Further, classifications of countries — such as that of Jamaica as a “middle-income country” — sometimes obscured continuing development challenges.  The missing link to progress was the urgent need to build capacities in developing countries through infrastructure development, institution-building, and expanding and enhancing productive capacity for competitiveness.

Unfortunately, development aid and assistance to developing countries continued to fall short of the agreed goal of 0.7 per cent of gross national income, he continued.  Jamaica urged its partners to recommit to the development agenda both at the United Nations and in the context of the Bretton Woods institutions.  It was also imperative that the G-20 activities in the area of development be in accord with the central role of the United Nations, he stressed.  Further, the Doha Development Round of negotiations must be re-engaged.  Jamaica also supported coordinated and collaborative efforts within the context of the review and implementation of the Aid-for-Trade initiative in support of developing countries and would continue to work with its development and aid partners in building on the supply side.

As the 2015 Millennium Development Goals deadline approached, Jamaica remained deeply concerned at the slow pace of delivery on commitments in several key areas, including official development assistance, trade, debt relief and access to new technologies and to affordable essential medicines. It renewed the appeal made by the Prime Minister at the 2010 Summit for an emergency programme to re-energize the Millennium Development Goals agenda.  More concessionary loans and grants for debt-for-equity swaps should be among the instruments used.  Additionally, he said, as a result of its classification as an upper middle-income country, Jamaica would not be able to access the necessary funds and risked reversing the gains it had made in one area, the HIV/AIDS response.  He again urged that the factors used by relevant multilateral agencies in the measurement of a country’s wealth be reviewed.

He went on to describe Jamaica’s position on issues including non-communicable diseases, food security and environmental sustainability.  Touching on disarmament and transnational organized crime, he said that Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries continued to face severe threats to their long-term socio-economic development from the illicit trafficking of narcotic drugs, small arms and light weapons and ammunition.  Jamaica had made marked reductions in crime over the past year, he stressed, and was continuing to strengthen the capacity of its security forces and improve the justice system.  It believed, however, that the full impact of such efforts would not be seen without an international regime that regulated the sale and transfer of conventional weapons.  Finally, in the area of United Nations reform, Jamaica said that one “glaring failure” had been the inability to agree on reform of the Security Council.  Moreover, the African countries and the Latin American and Caribbean region still had no permanent seat at the table.  “This injustice cannot continue,” he said.

THEODORE BRENT SYMONETTE, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Bahamas, expressing regret for the recent loss of life and wide-ranging destruction caused by hurricanes and tropical storms, said that devastation reinforced the need for global attention to the adverse effects of climate change and natural disasters.  Indeed, the increased frequency and intensity of natural disasters, including hurricanes, were among the major challenges facing the Bahamas.  Together with economic and social challenges, these and other environmental challenges, such as waste and water resource management issues, constituted serious national constraints.  The Government was committed to mainstreaming sustainable development principles into its national development strategies, and progress was being made in protecting biodiversity and promoting renewable energy.  It expected that next year’s “Rio+20” conference would take into account the unmet needs in each of the three pillars of sustainable development.

He said the economic crisis underscored the need for greater effectiveness in global governance, including an enhanced ability to respond to evolving global challenges in an inclusive, participatory and transparent manner.  As the role of the Group of 20 grew, the question of how that Group could better engage and consult a wider range of countries, as well as the United Nations, must be answered.  He stressed that the aspirations of the marginalized for greater democratization, inclusiveness, representativeness, transparency and accountability were no less legitimate at the international level than at the national one, and the Security Council must be reformed in both its composition and its working methods.  At the same time, the United Nations must take on a greater role in a number of areas, including international cooperation on tax matters.  Specifically, the committee of experts on that issue should be converted into an intergovernmental subsidiary body of the Economic and Social Council.

He further noted that many small middle-income and ostensibly high-income developing States like the Bahamas continued to grapple with the lingering effects of the global economic and financial crisis.  National efforts must be met with appropriate and urgent actions at the international level to help sustain progress in achieving the internationally agreed development goals, including through the provision of new and additional resources, the establishment of necessary implementation mechanisms, the implementation of the Monterrey Consensus and the creation of a universal, rules-based, open, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system.  The Bahamas also welcomed increased dialogue on improving international cooperation on international migration and development.

He underscored that political stability was fundamental to Haiti’s economic and social development and hoped issues delaying the Prime Minister’s appointment would be resolved shortly.  He called on donor States to honour their pledges to the Haitian Recovery Fund, some of which remained dishearteningly outstanding.  His delegation strongly believed that the members of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) must uphold the highest standards of conduct and that any misconduct must be rigorously investigated and appropriately addressed.  Since its presence remained as pressing and urgent as ever, the Mission must be structured for greater relevance and efficacy.

Among other issues, he underlined the interlinked threats from the illicit arms trade, transnational organized crime, and drug trafficking.  His Government supported a strong, effective and non-discriminatory Arms Trade Treaty that included the category of small arms and light weapons.  Noting his country’s success in combating HIV/AIDS, he stressed the need for support as it turned to preventing and controlling non-communicable diseases.  Given the absence of time-bound targets and commitments in the recent United Nations Political Declaration on non-communicable diseases, his Government looked forward to the comprehensive review of the issue in 2014.  Finally, he appealed for support for the permanent memorial to be erected to commemorate the victims of the transatlantic slave trade.

HAILEMARIAM DESALEGN, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, said that the globalizing world had presented challenges to Africa and the developing world, and that negative developments over the last few years had made it even more difficult for such countries to move along the path to development.  There was a need for a redoubled effort, so that achievements of the Millennium Development Goals would not be frustrated.  For its part, Ethiopia felt that it was on track on almost all targets, and its commitment was even more ambitious in line with its five year Growth and Transformation Plan.  Yet, the global economic situation remained a source of concern.

It was in that context that the Horn of Africa had been hit by the worst climactic crisis in 60 years, he said.  At the current “critical juncture”, the international community should be galvanized, particularly in assisting to alleviate the crisis in Somalia.  The call made to that effect at the recent Mini-Summit needed to be reiterated and amplified.  What was even more crucial in the region, however, was sustainable development.  Poverty, on top of denying people their human rights, was not a solid foundation on which to build peace and security.  Additionally, the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) region faced the challenge of climate change, adverse effects of which were becoming evident in a variety of ways.  Moreover, that issue embodied injustice, as Africa and the developing world were the worst affected, while contributing the least to climate change.

Members of IGAD had been trying to bring its efforts to bear, realizing that one major challenge hindering development in the region was related to security and the lack of durable sustainability.  They were working to implement infrastructure projects and to strengthen their common endeavours for peace and security.  In Somalia, in close collaboration with the East African Community, the African Union and the United Nations, IGAD had been the “linchpin” in the effort to assist the Somali people.  Now, with the extremist Al-Shabaab group having been driven out of Mogadishu and the “tide turning against them”, there was new hope in Somalia, which should be sustained.  He paid special tribute to Uganda and Burundi for the sacrifices they had made in the course of that progress, and underlined that the fight had humanitarian and developmental implications, not only security or political.

In that respect, he recalled that IGAD countries had requested the Security Council to support them in their efforts for peace in Somalia, and to contain those who not only encouraged, but took part in terrorism.  It was particularly vital for the Council to act on the conclusions and recommendations of a body it had established itself, he stressed.  “Sweet talk, devoid of any behavioural change in practice and on the ground, should not lead the Security Council to wish away concrete evidence,” he said, adding that there should be no “double standard” in the fight against terrorism.  Efforts against terrorism could not succeed if they were selective.

Ethiopia continued to call for the reform of the Security Council and the revitalization of the General Assembly, the true representative of the people of the world.  In the same spirit, Ethiopia believed in the need for peaceful negotiations and mutual accommodation from the parties to the Arab-Israeli conflict.  It was not enough that the right of the Palestinians to a viable State be acknowledged or given lip-service, he stressed.  Real, tangible and practical steps must be taken.  Noting that the world was passing through a period of uncertainty, he added that such periods needed to be “handled delicately”.  Therefore, more attention needed to be paid to the prevention of conflicts and mediation.

THONGLOUN SISOULITH, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, said his country had always stood firm in upholding the principle of peacefully resolving problems.  In recent decades, it had pursued a foreign policy of peace, independence and cooperation, which was reaffirmed at the ninth congress of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party in March.  As a result, his country had achieved considerable progress in social advancement and poverty reduction and, in the next five years, would put in place targets to accelerate economic development.  It ultimately aimed to graduate from least developed country status by 2020.  The country was vulnerable to external shocks, and he urged enhancing development cooperation to ensure tangible benefits based on solidarity.

Over the last year, the world had seen challenges caused by regional conflict, spreading social unrest, economic crisis and natural disasters, he said, and the United Nations, as the only universal organization, should enhance its role to address those problems in a more timely and just manner.  The reform process must be accelerated, notably to allow the Organization to better maintain international peace and security by carrying out its duty to address regional conflicts, such as the situation in the Middle East.  The United Nations should play a more effective facilitating role in urging all parties to realize the vision of two States — Israel and Palestine — living side by side in peace and security within internationally recognized borders.  The Lao People’s Democratic Republic supported Palestine’s application for full United Nations membership.  Also, it was time to lift the United States embargo on the Cuban people.

Turning to South-East Asia, he said the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) had made progress based on its three pillars – political-security community, economic community and socio-cultural community.  Further, the Asia-Europe Meeting had become another important forum for leaders to consider the response to regional and global challenges.  His country would host the ninth Asia-Europe Meeting Summit in November 2012.  In other areas, he said unexploded ordnances threatened the Lao People’s Democratic Republic’s work to advance development.  The Government had mobilized financial means to clear contaminated areas, and in discharging its duty under the Convention on Cluster Munitions, received invaluable international assistance.  The number of States Parties had increased to 63 and his country hosted the first meeting of States parties in Vientiane.  He hoped States not yet party would consider acceding in the near future.

YANG JIECHI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of China, said “the world has entered an extraordinary historical stage in its pursuit of peace and development”, noting that global development was now at a new juncture.  The gap between the South and the North was as wide as ever.  Nearly 1 billion people suffered from starvation and it was vital to step up cooperation to help meet the needs of the least developed countries.  In the face of such challenges, ensuring security through cooperation and promoting development through stability had become a shared desire.  He urged working “as a team” to overcome difficulties and pursue both mutual benefit and common development.

To fulfil that mission, global economic recovery must be fostered, he said.  It was important to work for a fair, just, inclusive and orderly international monetary and financial system and increase the voice of emerging markets and developing nations.  He supported the transition of the Group of 20 from a short-term crisis response mechanism to a long-term instrument of economic governance.  He also strongly opposed protectionism and called for strengthening the multilateral trading regime.

It was also important to lay the political foundation for cooperative development, he said, stressing that the equal right to development must be protected.  It was vital to adhere to the United Nations Charter, uphold the United Nations’ authority, observe the principle of non-interference in internal affairs and promote democracy in international relations.  The sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations should be respected, and he opposed interference in States’ internal affairs.  The development path of each country should be respected.  Next, a security environment conducive to stability and development should be fostered.  China respected the independent choices of the people of Sudan and South Sudan, and had worked to advance the peace process between them.  China also supported proper settlement of the Darfur issue.

On the Middle East, China supported efforts to achieve the “two-State solution” through political negotiations to establish an independent Palestinian State, he said.  In parallel, progress should be made in peace talks between Syria and Israel, and between Lebanon and Israel.  He voiced great concern at turbulence in West Asia and North Africa, saying China stood for the principle of non-interference, respect and support for countries in independently handling their internal affairs.  On Libya, China respected the choice of Libyans and recognized the National Transitional Council as the governing authority.  In Syria, he urged parties to exercise restraint and avoid further bloodshed.  A Syria-led, inclusive political process aimed at promoting reform was the right way to resolve the crisis.  Elsewhere, he said dialogue and consultation were the only effective ways to address issues on the Korean peninsula.  The Six Party Talks were an effective way to advance denuclearization of that area.  He welcomed the resumed dialogue between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea.

Finally, he said balanced development between the global South and global North should be promoted.  In the Horn of Africa, he called on States to scale up assistance, stabilize food and commodity prices and help countries enhance capacity for self-development.  Developed countries should honour pledges for official development assistance, open markets and debt cancellations, while developing nations should explore growth models conducive to development and poverty alleviation.  Noting that China’s development had become an international focus, he said China had become the world’s second-largest economy, exporter and importer.  It was the largest emerging market.  On the other hand, it was a developing country with a large population and weak economic foundation.  It was committed to enhancing mutually beneficial cooperation based on equality with other developing countries. As China continued to develop, it would create more opportunities for world peace, development and cooperation.

TAÏB FASSI FIHRI, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Morocco, said the current session was taking place in a sensitive international context, in which the world faced acute and complex crises.  Some, such as the climate change and the food crisis, were structural and persistent, while others, such as the financial crisis, were circumstantial.  It was important to ask how the United Nations could adapt to this fast-changing world and how States could consolidate good governance.  For its part, Morocco had established a democratic State that had been based on two interdependent pillars:  the deepening of political reforms and the advent of human development.  The recent adoption of a new constitution marked an historical development in the process by, among other things, consolidating the principle of separation and balance of powers, preserving the judiciary’s total independence and strengthening women’s participation in politics.

He said the profound events and transformations in the Arab world proved both that social and economic development could not be achieved without political openness and democratic evolution, and that progress and ability could not survive in a politically stagnant and ideologically closed environment.  Further, those events showed that each Arabic country had the capacity to build a political system that reconciled universal values and national specificities.  Morocco called on the international community to support the democratic transitions in Tunisia and Egypt.  As it had from the beginning, Morocco supported the Libyan people’s legitimate aspirations and all the moves and initiatives taken by the National Transitional Council at the national and international levels.  The Moroccan Government hoped that Arab diplomatic initiatives in Syria and Yemen would prevent further bloodshed and guarantee the peaceful resolution of the crises there.  In that context, it appreciated the response of the Group of Eight major economies in the Deauville Partnership.

He further highlighted the need for a new regional governance structure based on regional integration of the Maghreb Arab Union, the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Agadir Agreement for an Arab Mediterranean Free Trade Zone.  Under the umbrella of the Arab League, it should aim to build a new Arab order serving human development, economic integration and democratic openness.  With the question of Palestine at an historical turning point, the United Nations must enable the Palestinian people to achieve their national legitimate rights, particularly through their admission as a sovereign State on the basis of the 1967 border, with east Jerusalem as its capital.  Morocco also welcomed the positive signals in the recent statement by the Quartet (United Nations, United States, United Kingdom and Russian Federation).  The Government was also consulting with the Gulf Cooperation Council to establish an advanced partnership, and it renewed its support for the legitimate rights of the United Arab Emirates regarding its three occupied islands.

Highlighting the new impetus to integration in the Maghreb, he noted Morocco’s relentless efforts to active bilateral relations with Algeria and its readiness to purse and intensify the negotiation process to find a consensual political solution to the artificial regional dispute over the Moroccan Sahara on the basis of the customary initiative that the Security Council, through six resolutions, considered credible.  Recalling Security Council resolution 1979 (2011), he said it was time for each party to live up to its responsibilities, particularly in light of regional events.  Stressing Morocco’s placement of African policy atop its foreign policy priorities, he noted its work to launch the Conference of African Atlantic States.  He urged further international support for Africa’s development challenges and reiterated the call for a high-level meeting on investment in the continent.  He also called attention to Morocco’s candidacy for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council for 2012-2013.

GUIDO WESTERWELLE, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, said that “globalization” meant so much more than economic integration.  Today, the world was witnessing a “globalization of values”, namely, those enshrined in the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  It had been demonstrated in North Africa and the Middle East, as well as in Belarus, where people longed for an end to repression and tyranny.  With the fall of the Berlin wall more than 20 years ago, he said, Germany had experienced for itself the joy of peaceful revolution; it, therefore, had a fundamental interest in the success of the political awakenings in the southern Mediterranean.  Germany offered its support, above all, in the crucial process of building a new social and economic order.  “For we all know that the success of social change largely hinges on economic success,” he added.

Germany was, therefore, not only working towards close partnership, but also market access and increased trade, he said.  It would offer young people education and training so that they could make the most of their opportunities.  Turning to the situation in Syria, he said that the courageous men and women of that country also deserved a clear signal of solidarity.  The Syrian Government had responded to the legitimate demands of the people with “brutal force”, he stressed.  Germany would continue to press for a Security Council resolution on the matter, which was not just about showing solidarity with the Syrian people — it was about the international community’s credibility.

His country backed a two-state solution to the Middle East conflict, with the creation of a State where Palestinians could live in dignity and self-determination, which was independent, sovereign, contiguous, democratic and politically and economically viable.  Germany had been involved in the very practical development of the State, in building administration and vocational training, as well as politically through the German-Palestinian Steering Committee.  Nonetheless, he said, Israel’s security was also one of the “fundamental principles” that guided Germany.  The statement issued by the Quartet last week identified the milestones along the way; Germany had worked hard for that statement and staunchly supported it.  Moreover, the recent confrontation of words must not be allowed to lead to an escalation of violence in the Middle East.  He called on the parties to make use of the impetus provided by the intensive efforts in New York for the benefit of both peoples.

On 5 December in Bonn, Germany, under Afghan chairmanship, the international community would discuss the way forward in Afghanistan.  That conference, he said, would focus on three major issues:  the complete handover of responsibility for security by 2014; the continued engagement of the international community after 2014; and Afghanistan’s internal reconciliation and support from States in the region, which was a key to lasting peace.  Meanwhile, he added, millions of people in the Horn of Africa were struggling to survive.  The United Nations had played a valuable role in providing swift humanitarian assistance.  Germany was doing everything in its power there, and in many other crises, to alleviate suffering.

Further, Germany would continue to be “in the vanguard of the fight against climate change”.  Like disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation, as well as the protection of human rights, the fight against climate change was an integral element of preventive diplomacy.  It was part of a far-sighted peace policy.  He added that the United Nations must adapt to that changing world.  Only then would decisions made there gain political force, effectiveness and acceptance.  The last General Assembly had considered United Nations reform, but no real progress had been made.  He, therefore, welcomed the decision of the body’s current President to again champion that reform.

YOUSEF BIN AL-ALAWI BIN ABDULLA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Oman, stressed that, with negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and the Government of Israel at a standstill, the world, and the United Nations in particular, must act to find a just and comprehensive solution.  His delegation believed that the establishment of a Palestinian State on the 4 June 1967 border, as well as its recognition as a Member State of the United Nations, would lead to serious negotiations that would reach just such a solution.  Turning to Somalia, where weak political leadership had failed to end the hateful war and to save the Somali people from poverty, ignorance and famine, he said it was time for the United Nations to intensify its cooperation with regional organizations to create a peace plan.  Humanitarian aid should also be increased to the millions of refugees and displaced persons among the Somali people.

Oman hoped that the 2012 Conference of Middle East States called for at the Review Conference on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) would declare the Middle East a region free of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction.  That conference should also take into consideration the legitimate right of States to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes in accordance with the NPT and under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  Oman called on Israel to respond to international demands to ratify the NPT and to allow the IAEA to inspect its nuclear facilities.  He also urged all parties to continue negotiations and dialogue on the Iranian nuclear file.

Highlighting the world’s profound demographic changes, he said the international community should recognize that youth constituted the majority of the global population, in particular as it developed future economic, education and development plans.  Specifically, young people should be empowered to use their energies to benefit from technologies and to achieve societies marked by prosperity and sustainable growth.  Further, with the world just around the corner from a wide food crisis, efforts must be made on the international level to expand production areas through wider cultivation and the use of technology to increase production and to combat desertification.  To reduce the impact of the global financial crisis on countries and societies, particularly developing ones, new principles for investment and international trade must also be considered.  All countries, especially powerful industrialized ones, should unite to reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, including through modern technologies.

Saying Oman condemned all forms of terrorism committed against the objectives of the United Nations Charter, he reaffirmed the country’s support for international efforts to combat and eliminate that phenomenon.  Oman had acceded to most of the relevant conventions and, following the issuance of a royal decree to ratify the Omani law to fight terrorism, a national committee was established for follow-up on that matter.  He went on to say that the Security Council’s membership should be expanded to keep pace with the increase in the meetings of the United Nations, to achieve the principle of equality for regional groups, and to end the double standards.

He stressed that Oman had come a long way in protecting human rights at all levels.  It had submitted its periodic report to the Human Rights Council in January.  It was also working to ensure employment and to increase wages.  A symposium dedicated to understanding women’s needs and developing their capabilities and its outcomes was being considered as a plan of action to ensure women had the same rights and duties as men.  Decisions relating to granting more legislative and oversight privileges to the Council of Oman had also been adopted.  He further noted that several health advances had resulted in a higher average life expectancy in Oman.

WALID AL-MOUALEM, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of Syria, said that the positions and circumstances of States were governed by their geopolitical realities and by the constraints and demands stemming from them.  As a State in the heart of the Middle East, for many decades, Syria faced major challenges and stood firmly against attempts to curtail its role and divert the national course it had chartered for itself.  It was no secret that Syria had upheld its national sovereignty and the independence of its decisions.  Meanwhile, it had spared no effort in supporting the legitimate struggle of the Palestinian people and championed resistance movements.  Syria upheld its right to liberate the Syrian Golan to the lines of June 1967.  At the same time, Syria extended a hand of friendship to all States and built its national relations on mutual respect and reinforcing interests.  It used its leverage to serve and promote the centrepiece of Syrian national prerogatives, namely the Middle East question to liberate land and restore rights.

Following the occupation of Iraq, Syria was dragged into another battle in which it had to choose between enduring the siege and isolation or submitting to dictates.  Again, it summoned its will to prevail, and emerged stronger and having preserved its independence and national prerogatives.  There were two sides to the problem Syria faced today, he stressed:  on the one hand, the country needed people-driven political, economic and social reforms.  But, the force of political circumstances demanded that domestic priorities take a “back seat” to other priorities.  The overriding priority was to deal with the external pressures facing Syria, he said, which were at times tantamount to “blatant conspiracies”.

On the other hand, popular demands had been manipulated to further objectives that were alien to the interest and expressed desires of the Syrian people, he continued.  Those demands were stepping stones used by armed groups to sow discord and sabotage Syria’s security, he said, adding that they became the “new pretext for foreign intervention”.  Syria had exercised its responsibility to protect its citizens.  However, vigilance against the continuing threat of foreign intervention did not mean underestimating popular demands.  Many of those demands, in his view, had already been met.  Reforms were a “work in progress”, which would continue through national dialogue.  In that regard, he recalled a statement made by President Bashar Al-Assad on 20 June 2011, in which he declared reform measures comprising new laws.  Among those were an Information Act to lay the groundwork for free and independent media, a Political Parties Act to guarantee pluralism, a Parliamentary Elections Act and a Local Administration Act.  The President also announced a timeline of no more than six months to agree on and implement those proposed reforms.

Syria deeply regretted the surge in the activities of armed groups, which were the manifestation of foreign intervention.  However, he said, it had expected the States advocating the need for reform to support the Syrian official position, instead of “incitement and defiance”.  Further, the armed violence was surging in tandem with multiple economic sanctions.  That course could not in any way be reconciled with the pronouncements of concern for the interests, security and rights of the Syrian people.  It ran counter to the basic principles of human rights, in defence of which, States based their interference in Syria’s internal affairs.  In fact, he stressed, any objective analysis of the events in and around Syria would demonstrate that the purpose of the current anti-Syria campaign was to attack the model of coexistence that had been a source of pride to its people.  He asked:  what else could that course achieve other than spreading Western hegemony and serving Israel’s expansionist interests?  From the rostrum today, he called on States that had partaken in that unjust campaign to reconsider their positions.

Finally, he said that Syria considered the international community’s pursuit of the recognition of Palestinian statehood to be legitimate.  It was a positive step, he added, calling on all Member States to support that request.  Regarding the Middle East nuclear-weapon-free zone, Syria’s position was established and well known.  It continued to call for exercising pressure on Israel to implement international resolutions that had called on it to accede to the safeguard regime of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

ELYOR GANIEV, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan, said that in the 20 years since his country’s independence, it had turned from a lopsided hypertrophied economy into a modern place of steady development.  Despite the ongoing global financial crisis, Uzbekistan had secured implementation of the Millennium Development Goals.  “The last five years the GDP growth made up, on average, 8.5 per cent and this year it is expected that the achieved level shall be preserved,” he said.  Uzbekistan now used 60 per cent of its budget for health care, education, communal services, social protection and other social programmes.

He said that education, spending for which made up 10 to 12 per cent of Uzbekistan’s budget, played a significant role in the country’s growth.  Its mandatory 12-year education, introduced in 2009, an establishment of more than 1,600 modern professional colleges and academic lyceums, had helped bring indicators not often seen in the world.  The country was moving steadily towards its goal of joining the ranks of modern developed and democratic States, ensuring its people high living standards and a commendable place in the world community.

Central Asia’s political and strategic significance, along with its rich natural resources, remained the focus of the world community.  Ongoing conflict in Afghanistan remained the most destabilizing factor, not only in the region, but also in the entire world.  “It is necessary to especially underscore that, today, no one has any doubts that there is no military solution to the Afghan problem,” he said, adding, Afghans must resolve their country’s problems on their own through compromise.  The events in Kyrgyzstan of June 2010 were also a serious challenge to stability in the region, and until investigations are carried out and the perpetrators punished, it was difficult to expect restoration of trust and cooperation between the Uzbek community and the Kyrgyz.

Socio-economic development of Central Asia was also influenced by the environmental disaster of the Aral Sea, which was turning into “a drying and disappearing pond”, he said.  Any action using transboundary rivers also had to take into account the interests of all States in their basin, as well as international law.  “In these circumstances, the attempts to implement the projects on construction of the giant hydro-facilities at the upper stream of the Amudarya and Sydarya rivers is counterproductive and dangerous,” he said.  “We do not ignore the rights of the upper stream countries to develop their hydropower sector.  In our view, it would be rather rational and safer to build the cascades of small hydropower facilities with the same total capacity for power generation.”

ÖSSUR SKARPHÉÐINSSON, Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade of Iceland, said that as the world had witnessed the worst hunger crisis of the century in the Horn of Africa, it was the collective duty and responsibility of those from wealthier nations to do better to provide relief with more speed and generosity to those deprived of the basic necessities of life – food and water.  Iceland’s Parliament had unanimously agreed to substantially increase contributions to developing nations in the coming year, and had accepted a time-bound plan to raise aid targets to 0.7 per cent of the gross national product (GNP).

That fight, he said, was the same as the fight to protect the planet, especially in light of next year’s twentieth anniversary of the Earth Summit in Rio.  However, the sobering truth was that the ambitions of Rio were still a far cry from being realized.  The key theme of Rio next year would be the green economy, to which Iceland had added its efforts, including renewable energy, marine health, sustainable land use and gender equality.  A true revolution was needed, creating a seismic shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy.  Iceland had cutting-edge geothermal technology, which it wanted to share with other areas brimming with potential.  Those areas in Central and South America, East Africa and Southeast Asia could become self-sufficient in terms of green energy. 

Turning to the health of the oceans, climate change threatened to put fisheries under a new strain, he said.  “As a marine biologist, I fear that sooner than later, this may affect the world’s fishing stocks, a vital source of protein for more than 1 billion people.”  That was another reason to urgently conclude a post-Kyoto agreement on greenhouse gas reduction.  “Every day the Arctic is a silent witness to climate change.  The snow I experienced as a kid is today fast becoming a rare event for my two teenage daughters.  The sad truth is that the Arctic glaciers and sea ice are melting much faster than anyone ever anticipated.”  That melting would open new areas for oil and gas exploitation, but it would come at a price, melting the surrounding tundra, a carbon buffer to the climatic systems.  That, in turn, would only accelerate global warming.  Exploitation of the Arctic should not be allowed without strict rules, he said.

On the same principle that had led Iceland to recognize the Baltic States in 1991, his country today also supported the Palestinian struggle for statehood.  Iceland would welcome Palestine as a new United Nations Member State, based on pre-1967 borders, exactly the same criteria laid down by the European Union, the Quartet and, lately, by United States President Barack Obama in a speech in May.  “I have been to Gaza,” he said.  “I have talked to the people, the fishermen that no longer can ply their trade, the young people that have no employment, the families that need a roof over their heads.  I have also been to the West Bank.  I have seen with my own eyes how the land of the Palestinians is literally cut to pieces by horrible walls of separation.  This is wrong.  This is unjust.  This is against every moral code that Iceland has ever stood for as a guardian of human rights.” 

Palestine was doing the same as Israel had done in 1947 — and Iceland had supported it, he said.  Israel had taken its case to the United Nations and emerged with statehood.  Palestine deserved the same.  “It is hypocrisy to suggest otherwise,” he asserted, adding: “It would be foolish to deny Palestine her right to statehood.”  Iceland, therefore, would vote “yes” when a resolution on the Palestinian statehood came to a vote in the General Assembly.  The Icelandic Government was determined to fully recognize Palestine and would put to the Parliament of Iceland next week a resolution on the recognition of Palestine as a sovereign and independent State.

MOURAD MEDELCI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Algeria, said the General Assembly’s theme of mediation appeared at a time of growing tensions, economic crisis and shrinking multilateralism.  The international system founded in 1945 today needed to adapt to new realities.  The inability, as individuals or collectively, to manage the current challenges underlined the urgent need to make structural changes.

He said certain current situations had led to the loss of human life, and Algeria deplored the violence, calling for interventions to ensure justice, democracy and the sovereignty of each country.  Algeria hoped the situation in Libya had stabilized.  His country wanted to work with the new National Transitional Council.  The tumultuous situation with Palestine was another source of deep concern.  The blocking of the peace process in the Middle East and the continued building of settlements had made lasting peace more distant every day.  That risk-laden situation was an affront to the peoples of the region.  The human embargo on Gaza and its borders was a collective punishment.  Palestine’s application for statehood was an opportunity to impose international law.  He was concerned, however, over the use of economic measures, including sanctions, such as the embargo on Cuba.  Turning to Western Sahara, he said no efforts should be spared for dialogue and communication to assist the Sahara people to achieve their right to self-determination.

Concerning terrorism, he said this year’s tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States should be a reminder for the international community to bolster its efforts to tackle that scourge.  Algeria stressed the need to speed up the adoption of a convention to combat terrorism.  Overall, multilateralism was the way forward to strengthen cooperation.  Current challenges included, first, the inability of the United Nations and the Security Council to manage conflicts.  Second, the recent economic and financial crisis, which had had devastating effects, especially in developing countries, laying bare a system riddled with large private groups aimed at growth and development at the exclusion of the countries of the South.  And third, the dramatic impact of climate change, which was a major challenge for the future of the world.

The United Nations should undergo reform to achieve collective security and to succeed in the upcoming events on the United Nations agenda, including to manage the problems posed by climate change.  Algeria supported a multilateral approach to those challenges because it had seen the effectiveness of that approach, including recent African Union initiatives.  Algeria, for its part, had undertaken major political, economic and social reforms.  At the political and institutional levels, the country had, among other actions, provided greater freedom for the audio-visual media and made an amendment to electoral law.  At the economic level, efforts had been made to ease operating businesses, and measures had been taken to make it easier for youth to enter the job market.  Those actions had been launched amid a democratic process that reinforced the rule of law.

Sheikh ABDULLAH BIN ZAYED AL NAHYAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates, said that global challenges were best addressed and resolved through consolidated collective action, involving all States, no matter what size or level of development.  They should also be engaged in all international decision-making structures and institutions.  That was why his Government carried out extensive preventive diplomacy initiatives aimed at easing tensions and resolving disputes in the region and beyond.  The United Arab Emirates sought vigorously to promote humanitarian and development programmes, with a specific focus on helping countries recover from conflict or natural disasters.

It always sought to enhance peace and security and promote respect for the United Nations Charter.  He said the United Arab Emirates had always shown such respect, including for sovereignty and territorial integrity when dealing with the occupation by Iran of the three United Arab Emirates islands of Abu Musa, and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs.  Since the illegitimate occupation of those islands, his Government had adopted a flexible diplomatic approach to resolving that matter through peaceful means, including direct negotiations or referring the situation to the International Court of Justice.

However, the United Arab Emirates was deeply concerned that there had been no progress in direct, regional or international contacts made with Iran towards reaching a peaceful, just and permanent solution.  “The actions taken by [Iran] to change the legal, physical and demographic situations of the islands are null and void,” he said, adding that such actions violated international law.  As such, his Government demanded that Iran enter into serious negotiations, or refer the matter to the World Court, “in light of its continuous illegal occupation of the three islands, which are an integral part of the territorial sovereignty of the United Arab Emirates”.  

Looking beyond national borders, he said his Government was closely monitoring the major complications surrounding the Palestinian issue, including those events that had led to the end of direct negotiations.  It was high time for that issue to be resolved in a comprehensive manner.  The United Arab Emirates condemned Israel’s continued evasion of its international obligations.  It also particularly condemned Israel’s settlement policy in the Palestinian Territory.  He believed that a comprehensive and just peace between Arab countries and Israel would greatly help to reduce tensions and keep the “voices of radicalism” from using that issue as a major justification for promoting extremism and violence.

On other regional matters, he said his Government was working with the Gulf Cooperation Council to promote national dialogue among all segments of society in Bahrain.  It was also supporting all efforts to achieve stability in Lebanon, and would urge the wider international community to compel Israel to end its daily violations of that country’s airspace and other trespasses.  His Government was also playing a role in the Contact Group on Libya.  He called for the release of the remaining frozen Libyan funds.

HAMROKHON ZARIFI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan, said his country was focusing on energy and food security, as well as overcoming its transportation and communication isolation.  But agriculture in the region had in recent years suffered a plague of locusts and other natural disasters, requiring more efficient international assistance.  Trade and direct investment could also be instrumental for sustainable development and, in that regard, his country sought support for accelerating the process of its accession to the World Trade Organization.

He said that 60 per cent of Central Asia’s water resources originated in Tajikistan, but more than 35 per cent of glaciers there had disappeared over the past 30 years.  Tajikistan had submitted a proposal to establish an international fund on saving glaciers in that strategically important area.  Climate change could not be resolved without collective effort, and it was his country’s hope that Member States would support that initiative.

For more than 10 years, Tajikistan had experienced a severe shortage of electrical supply in winter, he said.  It was vitally important to develop the huge potential of its hydro-sector in a consistent and complex manner, and his country was prepared to closely cooperate on issues of rational use of water and energy resources with all in the region.  To resolve the crisis of the degradation of the Aral Sea, countries in the region also needed to invest huge capital in the water sector and reduce the area of irrigated lands with high water absorbency.  Water, an essential natural resource, should unite rather than divide, and Tajikistan had initiated a proclamation of 2013 as International Year of Water Cooperation.

The situation in Afghanistan was a great concern for Tajikistan, and he expressed heartfelt condolences on the assassination of former President Burhanuddin Rabbani.  Tajikistan supported the international strategy for a comprehensive resolution to the situation in that country, and believed its trade and economic cooperation with neighbouring States was an important factor in its rehabilitation.  Five bridges had been commissioned at the border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan, and a 220 kV power transmission line had been completed between the two countries.

JOSÉ BADIA, Government Counsellor for External Affairs of Monaco, said the new goals facing the world’s Governments included sustaining development and building a safe world, alongside renewed support of the United Nations, whose role in conflict prevention, human rights violations and natural disasters should be strengthened.  The newest Member State, South Sudan, arrived at a time when a movement was sweeping through the Middle East among peoples who had been oppressed for too long.  Monaco expressed solidarity with those who had fought for freedom and the rule of law, hoping there would be a viable, lasting solution that would see Israel and Palestine as two States, living side by side in peace.

He said it was the United Nations that helped to safeguard humanity, and it was where the world turned to assure the world’s collective security.  During the natural disasters, and the humanitarian crises and economic crises of the past year, the world had turned to the United Nations for help.  The Organization also supported development.  Regarding the Millennium Goals, Monaco had aimed to improve the quality of life of the most vulnerable among us, including the promotion of women and girls in development strategies.  For women to realize their potential, obstacles must be removed, giving women equal access to resources, including markets, he said, reiterating Monaco’s support for the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women).

Turning to renewable energy, he said the switch from fossil fuels could not be made immediately, especially after the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident, which showed the risks of nuclear energy.  It was, time, however, to put aside differences and to set up a green economy.  For its part, Monaco had contributed to the work of “Rio+20”, by organizing a meeting on the sustainable management of oceans.  The negative impact of climate change on oceans was becoming more visible, and pollution and unsustainable exploitation were harming ecosystems.  Better prevention resources were needed, thus enabling the United Nations to carry out its mandate efficiently.  Reforms were also vital, including reform of the Security Council, deepening cooperation with regional organizations as well as relations with civil society and the private sector.

BRUNO RODRÍGUEZ PARRILLA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cuba, said that while delegations were deliberating in New York, yet another “preventive war” was taking place; this time in Libya under the pretext of protecting civilians.  The United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), purportedly to “avoid a massacre”, had launched a military attack against a sovereign nation that posed no threat to international peace and security.  Indeed, a “regime changer” operation had been unleashed as NATO had imposed on the Security Council a “dubious” resolution “authorizing Member States […] to take all measures necessary to protect civilians and populated areas under threat of attack”.  Subsequently, NATO had violated that same text in order to supply weapons and money to one of the parties in the Libyan conflict, as well as to deploy operatives and diplomatic personnel on the ground.

“Now everybody has a better understanding of the responsibility to protect and exactly what it can be used for,” he declared, stressing that the war in Libya was being waged with the most advanced and lethal military technologies.  Moreover, communications and media outlets were profiting from the war and reconstruction operations.  Early on, Commander in Chief Castro had warned the world about NATO’s aims.  Since then, Cuba had actively engaged in the matter — not to defend a Government, but to defend a principle.  The “assassination” of thousands of innocent people under the guise of civilian protection was absolutely unacceptable.  Only the Libyan people could decide the destiny of their own country.

Continuing, he said that the military intervention in Libya and “the growing threat” against Syria amounted to opportunistic actions taken by the United States and Europe in response to the collapse of their own system of “domination and plunder” in North Africa and the Middle East.  As those regions were undergoing genuinely home-grown popular movements, the United States and Europe were aiming to secure huge reserves of oil and water, and to confiscate financial assets in times of economic and social crises.  “It is the task of the General Assembly to exercise its powers to prevent military aggression against Syria,” he said, reminding delegations that Washington had “cynically and nefariously” rushed to describe what had occurred in Libya as a “new model”.

He noted that United States President Obama had made a cynical statement to the Assembly last week, which said as much, and there was no doubt that Latin America and the Caribbean could be included in the aggressive regime-change attitude that was taking hold.  Among other questions he posed, he asked if the European Union could say something about that.  In the face of such mounting threats, “more than ever before, we must defend the United Nations”, and turn it into an organization that served the legitimate interests of all States, and not just the major Powers.  “We must see to it that international law and the purposes and principles of the [United Nations] Charter prevail in the face of brute force attempts to wipe them out,” he said, adding in that regard that it was absolutely necessary to re-establish the leading role of the General Assembly and totally “re-launch” the Security Council.

As for bilateral relations with the United States, he said the Cuban Government reiterated its willingness and interest to move towards the normalization of such relations.  He also reiterated his Government’s proposal to begin dialogue towards resolving bilateral problems, including humanitarian issues and several cooperation agreements on combating drug trafficking, terrorism and people smuggling.  Meanwhile, the economic and financial blockade against Cuba had been tightening and attempts to subvert Cuban constitutional order were rampant.  Moreover, right-wing extremists and the Cuban-American mafia continued to subvert the minimal steps taken by the United States Government that to some extent had favoured the links between Cuban émigrés and their home country.  The Cuban President had reiterated that he would continue to change, in a sovereign way, all that needed to be changed, so that Cuba’s economy was more efficient and its socialist system operated better.

URI ROSENTHAL, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, said that the call for freedom and democracy form the streets of the Arab world had sparked great change.  While the events in the Middle East and North Africa had inspired people far beyond that region to claim their rights, many challenges remained, especially fallout from the financial and economic crisis, which was threatening global trade and undermining livelihoods and social progress.  The United Nations and the wider international community must support people’s calls for freedom, he said, noting that, along with the financial crisis, lack of security was another threat facing many regions.

He said providing security was a shared responsibility of Governments and the United Nations.  The world had risen to that challenge in March when the Security Council adopted resolution 1973 (2011) on Libya, which explicitly referred to the “responsibility to protect”.  By contrast, the Council’s failure to reach consensus on the situation in Syria “has come at great human cost”.  Everyday, the world was shocked by “new horrific stories”, he said, declaring: “We need to stop President Assad’s Government from brutally murdering [its] own citizens in an attempt to crush their legitimate right to freedom.”  He urged all members of the Security Council to act decisively and agree on targeted sanctions against that regime.

He said freedom and security were at the heart of the Middle East peace process, and if everyone wanted peace, “we need direct negotiations now, not new resolutions at the United Nations”.  The Netherlands endorsed the time frame outlined late last week by the diplomatic Quartet on the Middle East peace process, and stood ready to provide any assistance it could.  The Netherlands supported the ambition of the Palestinian people to build a viable independent State, as it supported the need to ensure Israel’s security.  Both sides must invest in mutual confidence-building and refrain from taking unilateral steps.

Turning to matters regarding democracy and the rule of law, “which require hard work”, he called again for the United Nations to support those that were showing tremendous courage to claim their individual liberties and fundamental rights.  The Organization should support efforts to build truly democratic societies, including through institution-building.  He noted that Slovakia and the Netherlands were co-chairing the Community of Democracies Task Force, which was supporting Tunisia’s democratic transition.  He called for all nations to strongly support the growth of and access to the Internet.  Such access should be uncensored and made widely available in all societies.  “Freedom offers the best route to prosperity; it belongs to all of us,” he said, calling for the speedy creation of an environment that was truly enabling for free trade and market access.  Well-regulated free trade benefited all, and that was why the Doha Development Round of the World Trade Organization talks must be wrapped up as soon as possible.

ALI AHMED KARTI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sudan, said his country was approaching the international community with new momentum, choosing peace and stability despite sacrificing a dear part of its land.  Sudan had chosen peace and displayed patience amid obstacles to its implementation, accepting the result of South Sudan’s referendum for independence and welcoming it into the community of nations.  However, that did not mean a “final divorce” in an era of globalization and alliances that transcended political boundaries.  Sudan was committed to settling all the problems related to its peace agreement with South Sudan, in particular border issues and oil revenue.  It would deal with all tensions and had accepted the choice of separation, not because it did not want unity, but because it wanted sustainable peace and stability.

The Doha Document for Peace in Darfur had been accepted and signed because it responded to all the aspirations of the people of Darfur, he said.  That text had been considerably supported by the people of the international community, and he reiterated thanks to all regional and international partners who had contributed to the agreement’s conclusion.  Sudan would continue to implement the five pillars of the strategy for political settlement of the Darfur dispute, giving priority to refugee resettlement.

He said he had expected the Secretary-General, in his speech to the General Assembly, to give a special paragraph about Sudan’s commitment to peace, and called on international organizations not to be hoodwinked by some countries that refused to pay their dues.  The leadership of President Omer al-Bashir had brought peace and deserved respect, and not the levelling of accusations promoted by the International Criminal Court.  President al-Bashir was the legitimate leader, elected freely and fairly.  Unilateral economic sanctions adopted by the United States were unjust measures against the people of Sudan while the country moved in a more open manner and was determined to play an active role as a member of the international family.

The international financial crisis had increased poverty in developing countries, dropping social services at a time when climate change exacerbated problems in those countries, he said.  Increased aid for famine in the sister republics in Africa, notably Somalia, was a priority.  The African Union and early warning systems had also helped maintain peace and security.  African efforts for peacemaking, such as the Council of Wise Men, led by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, played a key role in settling disputes.  But reform of the Organization, notably the Security Council, was still required.  Real reform of the Council would stop it from being exploited in a way that casts doubt on the Organization’s credibility.

MANUEL SALVADOR DOS RAMOS, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Communities of Sao Tome and Principe, said this year’s theme of mediation was an opportunity to reflect on its impact in resolving conflicts, as well as the central role the United Nations should play in that process.  That should then lead Member States to form concrete proposals that could strengthen the capabilities of the Organization in that area.  The widespread use of mediation as a technique to resolve conflict had not always matched expectations nor produced expected results.  Instead of international mediation settling for the status of peacekeeper, it must evolve to take on the role of a fundamental actor in peacebuilding.  The United Nations would have the responsibility to take care of what appeared today to be the professionalization of international mediation, which was relegated to the background of the legal instruments ratified by specialized institutions to deal with the subject of the conflict at hand.  For instance, the United Nations should take the necessary and important step to define the legal status of a mediator.

Concerning Libya, he said he regretted that there had not been a responsible partnership between the African Union and the Security Council to resolve that crisis.  It was urgent to strengthen the United Nations role by reforming the entire system, including the Security Council and some of its specialized agencies, to align with the aspirations and demands of the modern world.

Welcoming South Sudan as the newest free and independent nation, he appealed to the international community to make a joint effort to support the new authorities.  At the same time, a serious food crisis rooted in political and military conflict in parts of Somalia highlighted the duty of all Governments to contribute to that serious situation without delay.  He appealed to the international community to provide more financial resources to support efforts to normalize the situation in the region.  Turning to Western Sahara and Morocco, he hoped the two parties could negotiate, and urged the United Nations to proceed with a population census to complete the long-time process.

The uprisings in January that had swept across North Africa expressed the will of the people of Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, he said, urging Libyan authorities to conduct an inclusive process of peaceful transition.  While the people of Bahrain, Syria and Yemen had demanded reforms in State institutions, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continued.  He reaffirmed support for the Palestinian people’s right to guide their destiny and advocated for the existence of a Jewish State.  He appealed to the United States and the European Union to exert their influence in order for the Government of the State of Israel to stop the establishment of settlements in the occupied territories.  Regarding Cuba, he urged the lifting of sanctions so that country could participate with other States in the process of building a more balanced and fair international society.

Global security was vital to sustainable development, he said, with risks ranging from piracy, transnational crime, trafficking weapons and drugs.  Those threats required greater commitment to conflict prevention, management and resolution mechanisms.  In addition, greater assistance was needed to confront the economic challenges facing small island States, including studying the effects of climate change in Sao Tome and Principe.

Addressing his concerns about Taiwan, he urged the relevant United Nations bodies to seek ways and means to ensure the participation of Taiwan in some of the United Nations system, in particular the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.  He noted that his country had just concluded the consolidation of its democratic process, with the President having taken Office on 3 September.  His Government was taking action to reduce poverty and promote economic growth and institutional reform.  Sao Tome and Principe was also making significant progress towards the achievement of the Millennium Goals, especially in the areas of education and health.  It was also eager to participate in efforts to mobilize the will and synergies for the noble principles and objectives on which the United Nations was based.

MOHAMED MOULDI KEFI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Tunisia, saluted the martyrs and youths of his country’s peaceful revolution for freedom and dignity.  “This historical event actually infused a new hope into the conscience of humankind that yearns for justice and democracy, and holds high the values of freedom and human rights,” he said.   Tunisia yearned for democracy based on pluralism and peaceful alternation of power, and the provisional Government was exerting every effort for a smooth transition.  The Higher Authority for the Achievement of the Revolution Objectives, Political Reform and Transition to Democracy had been established to fulfil the people’s aspirations for a democratic, sound and quiet transition.

He said that Tunisia’s Government, whose competence and integrity was common knowledge, was in charge until a Constituent Assembly was elected in free, transparent fashion on 23 October.  Then, a new Constitution would be drafted to consecrate popular legitimacy.  “We are utterly confident that these elections will be a success by all standards, and that success will be clearly confirmed by national as well as international observers, who will attend this momentous political event,” he said.  Protection of human rights and civil liberties were top Government priorities, and several international organizations dealing with those issues had opened offices in Tunis, including the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Tunisia also strongly appealed for repatriation of its people’s assets taken by the former President and his family members and in-laws, which were greatly needed at the present very special juncture, he said.  “It is actually a very sensitive period fraught with tremendous economic and social challenges.”  Thanking countries that had responded to extradition requests for persons convicted of crimes, he asked for those that had not responded to show more efficiency in observance of principles of international solidarity.  He thanked the G-8 and international institutions that showed support in the transitional process, as well as the United Nations, regional groupings and other friendly countries for precious contributions.

Tunisia would do its utmost to help the people of Libya achieve their legitimate aspirations towards democracy, he pledged.  Arab unity could only come from common and daring political decisions and consensus on League of Arab States’ concerns, on top of which was Palestine.  Tunisia strongly supported the Palestinian bid for United Nations recognition, and called for support of its full membership, strongly condemning the illegal embargo on the Gaza Strip and Israel’s recent military aggression.  While congratulating Egypt on its successful revolution, Tunisia hoped peace and stability would be restored in Syria and Yemen to meet their peoples’ aspirations for freedoms and reforms.

“Tunisia will strive to retrieve its position within the United Nations in a way that reflects the awareness and aspirations of its people as well as its long-standing history replete with positive contributions to international relations,” he said.  While stressing his country’s commitment to enhanced cooperation with other nations, he called for initiating reform of the United Nations, mainly through enlargement of the Security Council’s membership to ensure permanent African representation.  But while politics, crises and wars represented the Organization’s major concerns, addressing economic and development questions would enable eradication of the causes of conflict.

MARTY NATALEGAWA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, said the General Assembly must seek to do more than just relive the past, lament on opportunities lost and congratulate on gains made.  Rather, it must ensure that moving forward, Member States of the United Nations were just that — united — in their efforts to address and anticipate the challenges ahead.  The opportunity existed to promote a new kind of international relations that accentuated partnership rather than confrontation, and placed primacy on the building of bridges, rather than the deepening of fault lines and divisions.  Nations should aggressively “wage peace and development”.

He said that “waging” peace in the Middle East must first and foremost entailed the correction of an historic injustice against the people of Palestine that had been allowed to go on for too long.  In that regard, Indonesia strongly supported Palestine’s present quest for full membership in the United Nations.  Such membership was consistent with the vision of a two-State solution, and of a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East.

Welcoming the democratic transformations in North Africa and the Middle East, he said that conditions must be promoted that were conducive for people to shape their own future.  Thus, Indonesia supported the National Transitional Council in Libya to promote a peaceful and democratic transition.  Indonesia had undergone its own democratization a decade or so ago, and was now reaping the dividends of such change.  For that reason, his country had launched the Bali Democracy Forum — the only intergovernmental forum for the sharing of experience and cooperation in political development in Asia.

The role of women should be promoted when it came to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, which was not only right, but also smart.  Overall, multilateralism should be strengthened, and cooperation and partnership between the United Nations and regional organizations was key to addressing today’s global challenges.  As the chair of ASEAN, Indonesia was working ceaselessly to develop the region’s capacity to prevent and manage potential conflicts, and to resolve them.  Such efforts were focused, not only on the further development of ASEAN’s conflict prevention and resolution, but in developing and nurturing necessary comfort level among ASEAN member States to resort to them.  As the Association continued its central role in the region, it was also setting a new challenge for itself, namely to develop greater cohesion and a common platform on global issues.

JOHN BAIRD, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Canada, said his country stood for what was principled and just, regardless of whether it was popular, convenient or expedient.  “Canada will not go along with a double standard that castigates some United Nations Members for alleged failings while ignoring the notorious abuses of others.  We supported the aspirations of those peoples who sought for themselves and their countries brighter futures during the Arab Spring that just passed.  But we will not go along with the unilateral actions of the Palestinian Authority,” he said.  “Our Government’s position has been clear — the only solution to this issue is one that is negotiated by the two parties themselves.”

He said multilateral institutions and action came from a collection of sovereign decisions based on individual States’ own interests.  That was not narrow self-interest, but an expanded view of mutual interest in which there was room for all to prosper.  Canada called that “enlightened sovereignty” — meaning, great things could be accomplished by working together.  Collective action, however, did not mean uniformity.  For example, when Canada placed strong sanctions on Syria’s current regime, it had acted independently, but in close consultation and cooperation with other nations.

Canada was the seventh largest contributor to the United Nations finances, and believed that it must be a force for positive action to make the world a better place, he said.  But its relevance and effectiveness was imperilled when the founding principles were observed in word but not in deed.  “So it is when the presidency of the Disarmament Conference passes to a regime involved in the illicit transfers of weapons, material and technology.  Or when Iran, which mocks the values of this organization through outrages such as refusing to allow entry to UN observers on human rights, is permitted to seek leadership roles, such as a vice-presidency of the General Assembly and a spot on the Commission on Population and Development,” he said.

Canada consistently opposed the debasement of multilateral institutions by conduct that was inconsistent with their values.  For example, this year marked the fiftieth anniversary of its principled refusal to support membership in the Commonwealth of Nations by South Africa’s apartheid regime.  “The greatest enemies of the United Nations are not those who publicly repudiate its actions.  The greatest enemies of the United Nations are those who quietly undermine its principles and, even worse, by those who sit idly, watching its slow decline.  “We cannot sit idly,” he said.

“It is our common duty to uphold the rights of the afflicted.  To give voice to the voiceless,” he said.  That included, among others, Roman Catholic priests driven to worship underground in China, Christians being driven out of Iraq by Al‑Qaida and Copts being assaulted and killed in Egypt.  In Burma, the regime discriminated against several forms of Buddhism and restricted the activities of Muslims, and in other places the Ahmadiyya community faced violence and gays and lesbians were threatened with criminalization in Uganda.

AURELIA FRICK, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Liechtenstein, said it was an honour and an inspiration to be speaking at the first General Assembly ever to be opened by a woman.  She expressed encouragement for all those, women and men, young and old, who had been standing up for their rights, often at great personal risk.  She welcomed South Sudan as the 193rd Member State of the United Nations, noting that the Organization had yet again proven its ability to settle complex and violent conflicts by peaceful means.  Developments in Northern Africa and the Middle East had their roots in the disconnect between Governments and people, and were internal in nature.  However, the rapid changes being witnessed also had an important international dimension.  Events since February 2011 had put the United Nations to the test, and further challenges lay ahead.

She said the Organization had indeed advanced in developing the concept of the responsibility to protect, based on three “pillars” — the first two being that the responsibility to protect lay with the affected State and that other States had the responsibility to assist in that protection.  However, when it came to the third pillar, the international community needed to become more active.  She commended the swift actions of the Security Council to protect the civilians of Libya and Côte d’Ivoire.  While some had criticized those actions as a choice aimed at regime change, she stressed that it was those regimes that had chosen to attack civilians and forced the international community to act.

On the subject of whether or not the United Nations had lived up to its promise of “never again” given in the aftermath of Rwanda and Srebrenica, she said that the action taken in regard to Libya had been a “historic” decision.  The international community had responded with swift action, and was also undertaking preliminary investigations regarding Côte d’Ivoire.  However, accountability had not yet arrived everywhere it was needed.  International mechanisms such as the International Criminal Court could and must only become active where States failed to live up to the task.  In the peaceful settlement of disputes, mediation had proven to be an effective tool and should be given higher priority, especially with regard to peacekeeping operations.  She welcomed the new focus on the role of women brought about by the creation of UN Women.  Further, she placed “high hopes” in the new monitoring system to protect women and girls from sexual violence.

The root causes of unrest in countries needed continued attention, as economic and social development were intricately linked with good governance, human rights and the rule of law.  She said the events of recent months had shown how irresistible the call for freedom could be.  Despite all criticism, the United Nations had become more effective in delivering its mandate.

SAMUEL SANTOS LÓPEZ, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nicaragua, said his Government rejected war as a means for solving conflicts between States.  Indeed, what was happening in Libya right now was only the most recent attack against the sovereignty of a United Nations Member State.  He decried the “shameful manipulation” of the relevant Security Council resolution and the “illegal nature” of the NATO operation in Libya.  He also rejected the use of the “misnamed principle of the responsibility to protect in order to intervene in our countries, to bomb civilians and change free and sovereign Governments”.  It was dialogue, not interference and intervention that would not resolve political crises.

Calling for a rejection of the unacceptable policies of the major Powers “aspiring to hegemony”, he wondered where those supposed defenders of oppressed peoples — “those self-proclaimed civilian protection apostles” — were when attempts were being made to recognize the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.  The double standard was clear — after 60 years of conflict, the Palestinians would be deprived of their right to an independent State, when, barely 10 days ago, “with unheard of haste”, the Assembly had recognized the National Transitional Council in Libya, even though that Council had not set up a Government.  He called for the Assembly to proclaim Palestine the 194th Member of the United Nations, as such recognition was not only just, it would be a clear move to shore up peace and stability in the Middle East.  He said both Palestine and Israel must exist and live in peace so that their peoples could work towards their own well-being and development.

He called for harmonized interaction between humankind and Mother Earth, saying the planet was under threat, and the potential dangers were multiplying.  The “hair-raising” events that had surrounded the earthquake and tsunami that struck north-eastern coastal cities of Japan and ignited the possibility of a major nuclear disaster were only the most recent example.  While the present and future repercussions of that “warless nuclear war” had not yet been determined, some scientists had estimated that the long-term damage might be more serious than the Chernobyl disaster.  While expressing support for the Government and people of Japan, Nicaragua would vehemently call on all States with nuclear plants to take all measures to avoid accidents that might gravely endanger peoples’ health and the environment.

With that in mind, he said, the international community must not squander the opportunities that would be provided by the upcoming Durban Conference on climate change “to redirect humanity towards development that is harmonious with Mother Earth and respectful of the 7 billion human beings that presently inhabit the planet”.  In Durban and in Rio, Member States would be called upon to renew their political will and to adopt concrete commitments based on previous progress and agreements.  He noted that climate change had exacerbated the food crisis, and higher fuel prices had forced some countries with agricultural bases to produce biofuel, which had also impacted supply and demand for basic necessities.

He said Nicaragua was going through a period of change that aimed to reverse the negative effects of 16 long years of neo-liberal Governments.  “We are rescuing values, reinstating rights, strengthening capacities “and constructing a new Christian, socialist and solidarity model, which is replacing the neo-liberal model of savage capitalism.”  Nicaragua was also articulating popular democracy through its national human development plan.  That plan sought to promote the country’s socio-economic health by increasing employment and reducing poverty and inequality.   Nicaragua was moving forward despite its “historical and structural problems,” which remained a burden to be eliminated in the process of national development.  Tackling poverty and underdevelopment required sound polices and a sustained effort in favour of political and Government systems that were deeply committed to the population’s aspirations.

BASILE IKOUEBE, Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Francophonie of Congo, reiterated his country’s support for South Sudan and his Government’s commitment to develop close friendly relations with it.  It was time for the Palestinian people to realize their political aspirations to have a sovereign State that was a full United Nations Member, living in peace with Israel.  The restoration of peace and security in Libya must be a major priority.  He supported the United Nations Support Mission in Libya.  Congo and other members of the African Union’s ad hoc committee aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the Libyan crisis urged the National Transitional Council to fulfil its commitment to preserve national unity and engage with all of Libya’s political parties to rebuild the country and protect foreigners, particularly African migrant workers, as well as open an inclusive political process to definitively settle the crisis.  He expressed hope that Cameroon’s upcoming major elections would be conducted smoothly.

He encouraged the Transitional Federal Government in Somalia to continue efforts within the framework of the Djibouti Agreement to bring about peace.  He called on all concerned parties to renounce violence.  He lauded the wave of international solidarity towards the Horn of Africa.  In that spirit, Congo had donated funds to assist the victims of drought in Somalia.  Mediation was essential for peacefully settling disputes and resolving conflict.  Africa was replete with lessons in that regard.  More than ever, mediation was the only way to ensure lasting peace.  The use of force should be a last resort, and the Security Council should strictly outline the conditions in which that was sanctioned to avoid any manipulation or deviation.  Exploiting the global justice system was dangerous, particularly in Africa, and must be prevented.  The Organization must adapt to new global realities in order to be effective and legitimate.  In that, United Nations reform was urgent, including restoring the Assembly’s central role and promoting participation of the broadest number of countries in decision-making.

He called for the successful conclusion of negotiations on a post-Kyoto agreement.  The upcoming Durban Conference on Climate Change must produce an international instrument open for signature before the start of the Rio+20 Conference in 2012.  In Central Africa, the countries of the Congo basin forest were working to achieve sustainable forestry and good forest governance, end illegal logging and implement the REDD+ processes.  The international community should support that effort to reduce global greenhouse gases.  During a conference in May and June in Congo, the Congo basin forest countries, the Amazon basin countries and South-East Asian countries, with the support of relevant United Nations agencies and other partners, had drafted a cooperation agreement, which would be signed during the Rio+20 Conference.

Sustainable forestry management required substantial human, material and financial resources, which developing countries often lacked, he said.  He called urgently for the release of “fast start” funds promised by developed nations, innovative financing and technology transfer to the developing world.  He paid tribute to Wangari Maathai, who had been a Goodwill Ambassador for the Congo Basin Forest.  The sweeping political changes in the Arab world were replete with lessons for the international community, as had been the changes in Eastern Europe following the fall of the Berlin Wall.  Liberty and democracy could not be imposed from outside.  It was necessary to face the new geopolitical challenges that had promoted the emergence of new international forces.

GEORGES REBELO CHIKOTI, Minister for External Relations of Angola, said the last decade had seen natural and manmade disasters, acts of terrorism and a global economic and financial crisis, all of which highlighted the fact that international cooperation was essential.  The environment, the Millennium Goals, food security, sustainable development, rebuilding post-conflict States and humanitarian aid were the world’s priorities.  Angola believed in the importance of multilateralism as the best approach to resolving the multifaceted challenges that confronted humanity.  Within the Commission on the Gulf of Guinea, Member States cooperated towards managing potential conflicts linked to sea borders, thereby providing security for a region that produced more than 15 per cent of the world’s oil.

Based on that motivation, Angola and its Armed Forces, he said, had participated in the liberation of Southern Africa, in Namibia and South Africa, along with the stabilization of the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  The Angolan Armed Forces were a factor for stability for Angola and the Southern and Central regions of Africa.  It was with great amazement that his Government had learned that the Angolan Armed Forces were allegedly involved in acts of human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in a report produced at the initiative of an agency of the United Nations Secretariat, with no specific mandate from the Secretary-General or United Nations Member States.  He underlined that Angola intervened in the Democratic Republic of the Congo at the request of that country’s Government, contributing to staunching the bloodshed and saving millions of lives.  Angola vehemently rejected the above suggestion, adding that the Angolan Armed Forces would continue to act responsibly, based on international standards and respect for human rights.

Angola’s experience showed that only peace, the democratic rule of law and respect for human rights could guarantee the stability necessary for sustainable development and the improvement of living conditions.  He encouraged the efforts undertaken by regional organizations and the United Nations in conflict resolution and peacekeeping to ensure global security and stability.  Angola was concerned about the conflict in the Middle East and supported the creation of a Palestinian State that coexisted peacefully with the State of Israel.  He urged the removal of sanctions against Cuba.  On the Western Sahara, he urged the Secretary-General to continue his efforts to help to meet the aspirations of the people there.

After eight years of peace, Angola had implemented economic and social reform policies that had allowed the revitalization of its economy and the rehabilitation of key infrastructure, allowing growth rates to average double digits and making an impact on the improvement of basic indicators of the Millennium Goals.  Since 2002, more than 2 million children had been enrolled in primary education, with 76 per cent of all children attending school.  From 2001 to 2010, infant and maternal mortality had fallen from 1,400 to 660 per 100,000.  He was convinced the international community was aware of how much still needed to be done, especially in areas of funding for development.

JOHN SILK, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Marshall Islands, reminded the Assembly that the United Nations had a clear responsibility to acknowledge and address the consequences of nuclear testing undertaken during its watch in his country.  Three weeks ago, the leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum, in their communiqué, had recognized not only the special responsibility by the United States, but also agreed to support the Marshall Islands at the United Nations, including in addressing the Secretary-General’s report on the effects of atomic radiation in the country.  That report, requested by the General Assembly in 2010, represented the potential for the Marshall Islands, the United States and the United Nations to take a very positive step forward in understanding the country’s past, bringing closure to what he described as a “sad chapter in our history”, and understand how the international community could assist in addressing future remediation challenges.  He believed United Nations involvement in all those efforts was key.

Sadly however, he said, he was concerned that the Secretary-General had, thus far, “neglected this critical opportunity”.  The United Nations Scientific Committee on Effect of Atomic Radiation, which was invited to contribute to the Secretary-General’s efforts to assemble that report, had termed the General Assembly’s deliberate mandate to be “not appropriate” and “an apparent error in need of formal correction”.  This was not only insensitive, but revealed that perhaps the United Nations itself had yet to come to terms, or even to merely acknowledge, its decision on nuclear safety taken 60 years ago.  In his view, that negative approach could preclude efforts to bring to the attention of the General Assembly important scientific work that had been done in assessing the consequences of the nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands.

He said he hoped that the United Nations would have the courage and will to rise above the past and make a difference, rather than to allow itself to remain controlled by history, and make excuses.  Nuclear testing impacts were not the only historical legacy from international actors in the Marshall Islands — unexploded ordnance from the Second World War and oil leakage was a persistent issue with the outer island communities and posed threats to human security, public health and environmental safety.  The country, therefore, welcomed the attention of the Pacific Islands Forum leaders and joined the call for assistance from international bodies and development partners.

Turning his attention to climate change, he said international climate negotiations were at risk of entering a phase of political stalemate, noting that those negotiations had spent over two decades in a complicated process that had delivered very little in terms of practical action to mitigate the climate change problem.  Often blocked by only a handful of countries, the international community was still unable to commit to emission cuts and targets sufficient to ensure the survival of the Marshall Islands and other low-lying nations.  Declaring that his country could wait no longer, he asserted that the Marshall Islands was now choosing creative paths to drive urgency into the broken negotiations and pursue practical initiatives to address the threats and risk.  First, the country had joined with Mexico in urging the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to consider the use of voting as a means of last resort.

Second, it had also joined with its Pacific Small Islands Developing States colleagues in July to push for the Security Council to recognize that climate change now posed an incontrovertible threat to international peace and security, he said.  Third, his country was studying carefully options for clarifying the relevant international obligations related to climate change and how those affected its statehood.  “We, the most vulnerable, must act when others lack the political will,” he added.

ANTOINE GAMBI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Central African Republic, said his country welcomed the entry of the “new brother and neighbour State” of South Sudan as the 193rd Member of the United Nations.  South Sudan had placed deliberations at the very heart of the problems that were of current concern to the international community, namely the peaceful settlement of disputes.  These continued to be the core work of the organization, and mediation was an indispensable tool in that regard.

He said the international community faced many challenges, and it was necessary to present adapted responses to them in order to bring about a better world.  Protecting the environment and mitigating climate change was an important priority for the international community.  In commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the Earth Summit, the focus was on forests.  Tropical forests such as those in the Central African Republic faced many threats having to do with social problems and natural disasters.  The drought currently afflicting the Horn of Africa, where approximately 12 million human lives were threatened, was a source of major concern and required broad mobilization from the international community.  Food shortages must also be urgently addressed.

He said nuclear non-proliferation remained a priority, and welcomed the interest of the international community in disarmament, as the threat of nuclear peril affected all humankind.  All those States possessing nuclear weapons must shoulder their responsibilities to bring about nuclear disarmament, and the Central African Republic would support any initiative of the United Nations towards that end.  Terrorism remained a global scourge, and as it was the tenth anniversary of the establishment of the Counter-Terrorism Committee, it was also a time to remember the fights waged to stop terrorist acts.

The fight against impunity and human rights violations was another responsibility of the United Nations community, but that should be carried out with a global approach that was careful not to undermine regional or national efforts.  He also attached significant importance to United Nations reform, especially of the Security Council.  The Council’s actions remained legitimate, and its authority would be further strengthened when an agreement was made on its expansion and a more equitable place was given to all continents.  Further, the protection of men, women and children should be at the forefront of concerns.  The withdrawal of the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad had left a security vacuum, which his Government was trying to fill, despite its limited resources.  The dividend of efforts to help the Central African Republic in its stability and security would benefit, not only his nation, but also the subregion and the African continent as a whole.

SURUJRATTAN RAMBACHAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Communications of Trinidad and Tobago, greatly supported the Assembly’s focus on mediation as a way to peacefully settle disputes, noting that the it was meeting at a time when people everywhere were seeking more direct roles in governing their societies and were prepared to die for the cause of freedom from tyranny and for democracy.  Restless, alienated youths were challenging leaders to bridge the gap between old cultures and traditions of governance with new aspirations.  “There will be no future that is peaceful unless youth cynicism is addressed,” he said.  Politically, the age of totalitarianism and anti-democratic leadership styles was over.  The world must now more than ever allocate its resources equitably, ethically, sustainably and transparently.

The Middle East conflict should be settled peacefully, he said.  He supported the Palestinians’ quest for their own State within secure borders alongside Israel.  The United Nations must continue to show leadership and work with the Arab League and other entities to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  At the initiative of Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister, last year, the Assembly had adopted a resolution on women, disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control.  He lauded the Organization’s decision since then to set up UN Women.  Women must be involved in all dispute settlement and conflict prevention processes.  Their absence in the process could result in the development of peace agreements that were not comprehensive in scope and that did not address issues which affected women during and after conflict.

Last week, he noted, Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister, together with other States, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and UN Women, had co-hosted, on the margins of the Assembly, a high-level colloquium on women’s political participation.  The Prime Minister and other leaders had signed a declaration on advancing such participation.  He hoped that the event’s outcome would foster greater global consciousness and discussion on women’s participation in Government and advancement of democracy globally.  He called on Member States to implement the resolution on women, disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control.  He also welcomed greater efforts to recruit lead mediators from developing countries, particularly small island developing States.

Youths were very susceptible to the negative effects of strife and must be protected, he said.  In addition to bringing to justice those accused of recruiting and enlisting children into armed forces, it was essential to create mechanisms to rehabilitate young people who survived conflict so they could reach their fullest potential and help develop their own societies.  He called on States that were in a position to do so to contribute to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Victims Trust Fund of the International Criminal Court.  He stressed the need to adequately resource the Department of Political Affairs and its Mediation Support Team.  Trinidad and Tobago and its Caribbean Community (CARICOM) partners had been very active in the meetings of the Preparatory Committee of the 2012 conference to negotiate a text on an arms trade treaty.  That treaty must include adequate provisions for the peaceful settlement of disputes.

GILBERT SABOYA SUNYÉ, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Andorra, reminding the Assembly that the most serious challenges facing the international community and the Assembly today was the fight against climate change, said that up to now humanity was used to overcoming recessions and times of crisis and entering a new phase of growth without thinking of the negative external effects of that growth.  Now, however, the world knew that growth was not possible at any price; that development had to be sustainable in economic terms, but also and more importantly, in environmental terms.  That was why climate change was a threat as or even more powerful than the global recession.

Some developed countries, especially those that lived on their natural resources, were seriously threatened by climate change, a situation that applied to his country because Andorra too, based a good part of its economic welfare on snow and mountain tourism.  That was why the country always supported any initiatives that aimed at a greater awareness of the need of fighting climate change, combating it and taking measures to adapt to what was likely to become a reality, he explained.

On international security, he observed that 2011 would mark the close of the first decade of the millennium without having resolved the threat to world security posed by international terrorism.  In spite of the advances achieved on that front, terrorism arose from hatred and wickedness, and he urged the world to be aware that the phenomenon dwelled where there was a lack of economic prospect, where there was illiteracy, lack of culture, misery, marginality and general lack of democracy.  Thus, the international community’s efforts in the promotion of a safer world would always be needed to combat all kinds of discrimination.

Welcoming the Arab Spring developments, he expressed hope that those democratizing movements would be consolidated in the future.  He supported South Sudan’s membership in the United Nations and noted that a more democratic world was a more dynamic and safer one, because it was fairer.  Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he implored the international community to continue to encourage dialogue and mediation, pointing pout that the Palestinian people’s aspiration to have a democratic and peaceful State was as legitimate as the Israeli wish to obtain a guarantee for its existence and security.

Right of Reply

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Iran, responding to the statement by the Minister of the United Arab Emirates, said the three Iranian islands in the Persian Gulf that the latter had referred to were an eternal part of Iranian territory and under Iran’s sovereignty.  He stressed Iran’s determination to continue its friendly relations with the United Arab Emirates and reiterated that all of Iran’s actions on the Iranian island of Abu Musa had been in exercise of Iran’s sovereign rights in accordance with documents signed in 1971.  “We’re ready to continue talks with the United Arab Emirates to remove any misunderstanding in that regard,” he said.  He added that the only correct name of the sea between Iran and the Arabian peninsula was the Persian Gulf.  He dismissed the use of any other names as illegitimate and void.

Also exercising his right of reply, the representative of Egypt, responding to the statement by Canada’s Minister, said the latter’s comments on Egypt were “utterly false”.  He advised Canada to follow closely the 25 January events in Egypt and the social solidarity such events had fostered worldwide.  Muslims and Copts had stood together side by side.  Since that date, no Copt had ever been harassed.  He was not surprised by such false allegations from Canada, which considered itself a custodian of human rights worldwide without carefully studying the facts and the circumstances surrounding them.

The representative of the United Arab Emirates, responding to the Iranian representative’s statement, said the latter had made illegal allegations to the Assembly about Iran’s occupation of the three islands that in fact belonged to the United Arab Emirates — Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa.  The United Arab Emirates had repeatedly made its position well known.  He expressed his “severe disappointment” over Iran’s repeated allegations every year in the Assembly.  Iran’s position was in contravention to all facts, documents and history, which proved that the three islands were an integral part of the United Arab Emirates.  They were part of the United Arab Emirates’ air space and exclusive economic zone.

He said he rejected Iran’s occupation and all its military and civilian measures aimed at changing the demographic and historic nature of the islands.  Iran was circumventing the question of occupation by calling for marginal issues to be addressed instead of the occupation itself.  He expressed hope that the international community would urge Iran to deal with that through bilateral negotiations or accept the principle of referring the case to the International Court of Justice, which would put an end to the occupation and have the three islands returned to the United Arab Emirates.

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