29 September 2012

Foreign Ministers Urge Member States to Take Charge of Efforts Aimed at Strengthening Multilateral System as General Debate Continues

29 September 2012
General Assembly
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-seventh General Assembly


18th Meeting (AM)

Foreign Ministers Urge Member States to Take Charge of Efforts Aimed


at Strengthening Multilateral System as General Debate Continues


Speakers Stress Rule of Law, Security Council Reform amid Escalating Crises

Foreign Ministers of small nations today called on Member States to take responsibility for strengthening the international multilateral system through respect for the rule of law and with the United Nations at its centre, to overcome global security, human rights, economic, environmental and development crises, as the General Assembly held the fifth and penultimate day of its annual general debate.

Singapore’s Foreign Minister, noting that “the multiplicity of interests makes finding consensus in international fora that much harder” in an increasingly interdependent world, said countries had begun to turn for solutions to exclusive groups outside the United Nations, such as the Group of 20 (G-20), which he credited with keeping the 2008 financial crisis from becoming a global depression.  However, such smaller groupings could not replace the world body’s universal membership, legitimacy, presence on the ground and ability to address complex problems in an integrated manner.

For the Organization to remain effective, he continued, Member States could not merely vent their frustration over its inability to act on such situations as Syria; they must take responsibility, he said, stressing:  “Let us not forget that the UN and its organs, including the Security Council, can only do what its members choose to do.”  He added:  “The UN is an organization of sovereign States and has no more authority than its Members give it.  Any failure of the Security Council and the UN in maintaining peace and security represents a failure of the Member States themselves.”

He and other speakers welcomed the expansion of United Nations mediation capabilities and other relevant mechanisms for the peaceful settlement of disputes, the theme of the General Assembly’s sixty-seventh session.  The long-term goal should be to ensure the system’s effectiveness, he said, noting that small States relied on international legal mechanisms such as the International Court of Justice for their economic and security viability.

Many speakers called for Security Council reform in that context, with some advocating the expansion of some combination of permanent and non-permanent membership and others prioritizing greater transparency and more judicious use of powers in the current configuration.  New Zealand’s Foreign Minister called for countries to move past attempts to maximize individual positions, and expressed support for the creation of a new category of elected seats for emerging countries.

Although New Zealand had long opposed the power of veto, it must be retained for practical purposes, but its use should nevertheless be voluntarily curtailed, he added.  “To ask the P5 to acknowledge and respect the genuine concerns of the wider membership by voluntarily accepting a curb on the exercise of the veto is an entirely reasonable and achievable objective”, he said, emphasizing that it must never be used in situations involving mass atrocities.

Also prioritizing the rule of law in strengthening the multilateral system for peacefully settling conflicts and promoting human rights and equitable development, Uruguay’s Foreign Minister said respect for international law had allowed his country to develop a unique institutional, political and economic model that was best suited to its citizens.  Uruguay had been an early promoter of peaceful dispute settlement through the rule of law, notably at the 1907 Hague Conference, when it had tried to introduce compulsory international arbitration.

Since then, however, a fair, balanced system had not come to fruition, he said, noting the need for countries to learn how to build political dialogue mechanisms in their pursuit of democracy.  A legally binding multilateral system was not just relevant to political issues, he stressed, stating that it was critical for remediating poverty and the absence of economic, social and cultural rights.  For example, it was vital for Uruguay to integrate into global agricultural markets, which required reducing trade distortions, including agricultural subsidies.  A United Nations updated to face current realities was critical for all such purposes, he said.

In addition to systemic matters, speakers also continued to discuss individual conflict situations around the world, as well as responses to the global financial, climate and food-security crises, the establishment of a post-2015 development framework after the period for attaining the Millennium Development Goals expired, and other major global issues.

They also continued to address the transformations in the Arab world.  Algeria’s Foreign Minister said the international multilateral system and regional cooperation were critical for a positive outcome to those changes.  Algeria had contributed to democratization and the rule of law in the region, and was cooperating with other countries in the Maghreb and Sahel to fight hunger and poverty, achieve food security, and develop agriculture, infrastructure and renewable energy.

The conflicts in sub-Saharan African also continued to attract much attention.  Sudan’s Foreign Minister pointed to his country’s progress in resolving some of the longest-running wars on the continent, pledging its determination to continue to tackle the reasons for war and strife, despite unfair sanctions imposed upon it.  For Sudan’s needs, a more empowered Assembly and a Security Council representing “the modern situation” were crucial, he said.  Expressing concern over concepts such as humanitarian intervention, the responsibility to protect and political and economic sanctions, he said they were efforts to politicize international justice.  While Sudan supported the rule of law in the international system, it rejected the approach of the International Criminal Court, he added.

Also addressing the Assembly today were the Foreign Ministers of Montenegro, Iceland, Kazakhstan, Cambodia, Tajikistan, Mozambique, Malaysia, Bahamas, Liechtenstein, Tuvalu, Chad, Mauritania and Papua New Guinea.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Monday, 1 October, to conclude the general debate of its sixty-seventh session.


The General Assembly met this morning to continue its general debate for the sixty-seventh session.


NEBOJŠA KALUDJEROVIĆ, Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of Montenegro, stressed the individual responsibility of all countries to strengthen the rule of law and promote human rights.  Failure to do so was a common concern.  Strengthening international partnership in the maintenance and building of peace was also crucial, and his country shared the concerns of the world community for the recent developments in the South Mediterranean and Middle East.  Outlining priorities, he said the “scale and consequences of the violence in Syria were a stern reminder” that the United Nations preventive capacities should be enhanced, as well as its role in promoting dialogue and mediation in peaceful conflict resolution.  Responsibility to protect remained another key priority.  In the era of accountability, perpetrators of crimes against humanity should not go unpunished.  Countries should demonstrate strong commitment to the rule of law, respect for human rights and freedoms, democracy and non-use of force.

He said his country was firmly dedicated to the comprehensive implementation of the Counter-Terrorism Strategy and it strongly supported global efforts towards disarmament and non-proliferation.  Transnational threats, such as human trafficking, cybercrime, and the illicit drug trade, among others, required a comprehensive approach.  As a multicultural country, Montenegro built its society on principles of tolerance and mutual respect.  Six years since the restoration of its independence, the country had achieved significant progress, both in internal development and international relations.  It had a very good relationship with all of its neighbours, while the region as a whole “stands before unique challenge to demonstrate that it is capable of reinforcing overall cooperation”.  The region, after a turbulent past, shared a common strategic goal of European integration.

Although issues remained in that regard, his country had achieved a new level of trust, development and maturity.  Having opened European Union accession negotiations in June, it was committed to implementing reforms and reaching the highest international standards in such areas as rule of law, human rights, democratic governance and strengthened institutions.  The country’s gains, however, did not imply an absence of problems, particularly in terms of the social and economic disparities, which, being quite visible, demanded stronger State efforts.  At the same time, given Montenegro’s promotion and respect for human rights, he believed the country would be elected to the Human Rights Council for the period 2012-2015.  Montenegro supported United Nations reform through “delivering as one”.  Sustainable development was his country’s priority.

In that light, Montenegro was on track to fulfil the Millennium Development Goals, which were a basis for defining the sustainable development goals and which must be part of the global post-2015 development agenda.  United Nations members should compromise on issues of sustainable development and conclusion of a binding agreement on climate change, and commitment to fulfil the Millennium Development Goals should not be neglected despite the difficult economic and financial situation worldwide.  At a time when interdependence and integration were major directions in global politics, “cooperation is a prerequisite for success”.  He was confident that small countries like Montenegro could play an important role, he said, noting the nation’s strong commitment to strengthening the United Nations system and its role in global governance, both at national and international levels.

ÖSSUR SKARPHÉÐINSSON, Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade of Iceland, said the Parliament had unanimously voted to recognize Palestinian as an independent, sovereign State.  Iceland had a good diplomatic relationship with Palestine.  The United Nations had recently estimated that Gaza would no longer be “liveable” by 2020 unless urgent action was taken to improve the water supply, power, health and basic education.  “The deplorable living conditions described in the United Nations report demonstrate only too well that the situation in Palestine is unacceptable to anyone who respects human dignity,” he said.  “I have visited Gaza,” and met with fishermen who were not allowed to fish in the waters off Gaza and children whose lives had been made miserable by poverty, violence and a blockade that had been described as an open prison.  He had seen how the human rights of people in the West Bank were violated every day by a man-made barrier that cut through their roads, schools and lives.  Israelis wanted to live in peace, and so they deserved.  The best way to ensure that was a two-State solution, which would benefit both the Israelis and the Palestinians.  Reacting to the Israeli Prime Minister’s speech on Thursday, he said: “Don’t bomb Iran, not this year, not next year.  Don’t start another war in the Middle East,” while calling on the Iranian President not to build a bomb.  “Let diplomacy work, not rabblerousing or fear-mongering,” he said.

Democracy matured and only got better with time, and the Arab Spring was just the beginning, he said.  As friends and supporters, he urged all to ensure the Arab Spring would advance the rights of all people, towards societies of democracy and social justice.  The international community must unite to end the violence in Syria, seek a peaceful solution and ensure that those who committed atrocities would face their responsibility in an international court of law.  The Syrian problem had been a wake-up call for the United Nations with regard to the Council.  “We must reform it so as to make it a tool, not a hindrance, for progress in situations such as in Syria this year, or — as we saw last year — concerning the Palestinian application,” he said.  He opposed violence and terrorism and called for unity in condemning the recent ghastly murder of the United States Ambassador to Libya.

Iceland was an open, embracing society, its foreign policy based on human rights, he said.  It was unacceptable that anyone was mistreated or persecuted due to sexual orientation or gender identity.  Iceland had demonstrated that small countries could be global pioneers through its move to introduce geothermal energy, a clean energy source, and by leading by example in the fight for gender equality.  It was embarking on a pioneering clean energy programme for up to 150 million Africans.  It had secured funds with the World Bank to help 13 African countries in the East Africa Rift Valley to identify, research and prepare considerable geothermal resources for use.  That would be Iceland’s greatest, most historic cooperation project with developing countries.  By developing geothermal energy in Africa, Iceland was also protecting the environment in the Arctic, where ice was melting at a far faster pace than ever anticipated.

Vast areas of the Arctic would soon open for new transport routes between continents and for oil and gas production, bringing immense commercial benefits.  It would also endanger the fragile Arctic ecosystem and the traditional livelihood of the Arctic people.  It was necessary to tread very carefully in the Arctic.  It was in the interest of all nations to ensure the Arctic Council became strong enough to provide in the future the forum for shaping important decisions on common interests to all Arctic peoples.  Turning to Iceland’s economic recession, he said the lesson from its recovery was that austerity did not work on its own.  Iceland imposed austerity measures but it also raised taxes, especially on the wealthy, and used the revenue to stimulate growth and ensure the welfare system was intact.  Today, Iceland had some of the lowest unemployment in Europe, and robust economic growth.  “The Icelandic model works,” he said.  While the global recession had led to a decline in international support for developing countries, Iceland was bucking that trend by increasing its support substantially.

KAIRAT UMAROV, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, said the geopolitical turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as natural and manmade disasters, were compelling evidence that the issues of security, stability and sustainable development were increasingly relevant.  Thus, world politics should be based on new global principles, which encompassed constructive multipolarity and transparency, trust and political tolerance, and clear pre-eminence of evolutionary forms of development.  Those tenets should be enshrined in the core documents of the United Nations and the entire international law system.  Fundamentally important was to ensure strict adherence to the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of States. 

He said that the threat of proliferation of nuclear weapons and technology, along with the spectre of their acquisition and use by terrorists, was a most daunting challenge.  Possession of mass destruction weapons did not guarantee security or greater independence.  Kazakhstan’s own record showed that countries reaped great benefits from renouncing nuclear weapons.  By voluntarily giving up the world’s fourth largest nuclear arsenal and shutting down the largest test site, in Semipalatinsk, on 29 August 1991, the country had become more prosperous, stable and influential.  He fully supported the Secretary-General’s proposal to adopt a nuclear weapons convention; an important step in that direction would be adoption of a universal declaration for a nuclear-weapon-free world.  He looked forward to the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.  This year, Kazakhstan would complete a project to enhance physical security of the former Semipalatinsk test site, which would contribute significantly to non-proliferation.

Kazakhstan, he said, was also actively involved in the fight against international terrorism and drug trafficking in the framework of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-building Measures in Asia.  As Chair of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the country consistently worked to build regional cooperation in that area.  Given the increasing attention to international information security, the time had come to consider the introduction of new concepts of international law, such as an “electronic border” and “electronic sovereignty”, as well as the establishment of a “cyberpol”.  In the realm of communications, his country strongly condemned the Internet video and cartoons that offended Muslims; such “disgusting” provocations must be stopped and freedom of expression must be exercised responsibly.  At the same time, he condemned the attacks on diplomats and diplomatic missions and called on Governments to protect diplomatic representatives.

Concerning Syria, Kazakhstan supported all efforts to resolve the conflict peacefully, as well as to prevent spill-over of the crisis in the region, he said.  Both the Syrian Government and the opposition should resort to diplomacy and not arms, and all nations must unite around the Syrian transition process.  Kazakhstan also called for the establishment of conditions necessary to settle the Palestinian issue.  It had also consistently advocated a peaceful — exclusively diplomatic — resolution of the situation surrounding the Iranian nuclear programme.  Afghanistan’s reconstruction was another important objective, for which the economic dimension should be a priority.  Touching on other issues of importance to his country, he highlighted trade expansion and global energy security.  Concerning the latter priority, Central Asia had great potential for becoming a global energy centre.  In following up Rio+20, Kazakhstan had been selected to promote a sustainable development project.  Finally, he said, intercultural dialogue was an important prerequisite for peace and security, noting an initiative of his country to proclaim an international decade for the rapprochement of culture, 2013-2022, which had been adopted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

HOR NAMHONG, Deputy Prime Minister and Minster for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia, said that, if the complexities of an increasingly interdependent world were to be faced, with both opportunities for rapid growth and threats of world-wide crises, “the current multilateral system needs to be transformed drastically into a well-coordinated and permeable body of institutions that can deliver innovative and feasible solutions to a globalized international society”.  Regional cooperation was an essential element in that respect, he said, describing efforts to stem financial risks initiated between the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and industrialized East Asian countries.

His country, he said, having achieved stable growth for a number of years, was confident of reaching its Millennium Development Goals despite its limited resources.  However, many developing countries still faced great obstacles in the effort, being too vulnerable to financial crisis, debt burden and unmet donor commitments.  For that reason, while welcoming the outcome of the Rio+20 Conference, he strongly advocated for the Millennium Goals to remain a fundamental milestone, with renewed efforts to assist those that had fallen behind.  As climate change could have devastating effects on them and all of the world’s most vulnerable people, it was regrettable that the international community remained divided on an effective response.  He called for developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and meet their commitments made in recent conferences, and for disaster management cooperation to be strengthened, as it had been on the regional level by ASEAN.

Major global reform was also urgently needed to implement the Rio+20 recommendations to modernize and encourage small-scale agriculture to face the growing challenge of food security, he said.  As high oil prices were linked to high food prices, a major rethinking of policies on both commodities was needed.  He stressed that the Group of 20 (G-20) had a crucial role to play in meeting such global challenges, noting that Cambodia, as ASEAN chair, represented the region at the group’s June summit in Mexico, and advocated there for improved financial and trade architecture.  He supported the priorities agreed there to promote trade for development, job creation and economic growth. 

On the United Nations, he said that comprehensive reform was needed to reflect the present world’s reality.  The General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council should be empowered to fulfil their mandates effectively; the Security Council should be expanded in both permanent and non-permanent membership to equitably represent both developed and developing countries.  Noting Cambodia’s contributions to multiple peacekeeping missions, as well as its experience in ending civil war, including its own post-conflict efforts, he signalled his country’s wish to contribute more effectively through the Security Council to the cause of peace, security and peaceful settlement of disputes.  For that reason it had, for the first time since joining the Organization in 1955, presented its candidature for non-permanent membership for the period 2013 to 2014.  In closing he expressed deep regret for the attack against the United States consular mission in Libya, while understanding the anger provoked by the disregard shown towards Islam.

HAMROKHON ZARIFI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan, said it was impossible to address global and regional issues without strengthening the United Nations central role in international affairs.  There was a clear need to reform the Organization, efforts that would allow it to emerge capable of quickly responding to developments and effectively meeting the threats of a new generation.  Its peacebuilding activities, in particular, required comprehensive support.  Stressing that respect for cultural and religious diversity was essential for global peace, he voiced deep concern at efforts to denigrate religions, particularly Islam, by “misusing the freedom of expression”.

Recalling that the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was to withdraw from Afghanistan in 2014, he said the “Afghan theme” would take on exclusive importance for the region and the world, as its development was key for ensuring peace.  Assistance should focus on its economic rehabilitation, with the building of railroads, motorways, power transmission lines and gas pipelines connecting Afghanistan with Tajikistan, and other countries, of utmost importance.  Tajikistan had proposed projects to enhance regional cooperation and believed that the multidimensional regional cooperation processes should fully involve Afghanistan.

Preventing illicit drug trafficking was one vital area where cooperative efforts were needed, he said, underlining the need to integrate national efforts into the international drug control strategy.  For its part, Tajikistan’s anti-narcotics strategy included short- and long-term programmes for cooperation on bilateral, regional and multilateral bases.  The Government also was committed to fully implementing the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction.

As for sustainable development, he said energy access was the key to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, especially for developing countries and remote mountain territories like Tajikistan.  He regretted that, due to a lack of regional cooperation and the disregard for his country’s legitimate rights, Tajikistan had experienced severe power shortages during the winter over the last 10 years.  It was vital for his country to develop hydropower and, according to international Tajikistan treaties, it had all the rights to use its resources in that regard.  It had no intention of pursuing its interests at anyone’s expense and advocated mutually beneficial regional cooperation.  But it also expected that, during the implementation of the assessment for the Roghun hydropower station, parties would abstain from hasty actions that contravened international accords.

He went on to say that Tajikistan’s lack of access to the sea hampered its sustainable development, making unimpeded transport and communication arteries connecting it to its neighbours vitally important.  He called for eliminating all artificial barriers in that regard, voicing hope that the relevant United Nations missions in the region would focus on that issue.  In closing, he said the International Year of Water Cooperation, in 2013, had been initiated by Tajikistan and a number of events had been proposed, including a General Assembly thematic session on the topic.

MOURAD MEDELCI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Algeria, said the world faced a complex turning point, due to geopolitical upheavals in the Middle East and the global economic crisis.  The collective faith in multilateralism should pool efforts to overcome the uncertainty caused by those ills.  He called for efforts to prevent the economic crisis in the developed world from spilling over to other regions, particularly Africa.  The return of confidence and growth should lead the world to better coordinate the work of the Bretton Woods institutions.  Algeria had made enormous sacrifices, carrying out rigorous expenditure control and social policy to redistribute wealth.  It would maintain investment to spur economic growth during the 2010-2014 period.  Development, peace and security were interrelated.  Regionally, Algeria had contributed to the process of democratization and the rule of law.  It had maintained cooperation with countries in the Maghreb and Sahel regions to fight hunger and poverty, achieve food security, and develop agriculture, infrastructure and renewable energy. 

Algeria shared with its Arab and African partners its experience with fighting terrorism, organized crime and trafficking of drugs and weapons, he said.   It welcomed recent changes in North Africa and the Middle East, due to the quest for democratic ideals, justice and liberty.  He condemned all forms of violence and repression.  He expressed hope that the people of Western Sahara would be able to exercise their right to self-determination.  He urged Morocco and the Polisario Front to act in good faith and launch formal talks to reach a just solution to their conflict over Western Sahara.  He supported the United Nations commitment to conflict prevention through tireless diplomatic efforts and the role of the Organization in promoting solutions to major crises as part of efforts to promote development.  Algeria was a member of the Special Joint Committee of the United Nations and the League of Arab States to monitor the Syrian crisis.  Algeria had supported Special Envoy Kofi Annan and it would do the same for his successor.

In the Middle East and North Africa region, violence and terrorist acts were linked to organized crime and trafficking of drugs and weapons, he said.  The complex situation in Mali, whose root cause was underdevelopment, seriously threatened the Sahel region.  Algeria was working with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union and other regional actors to achieve a peaceful, lasting settlement to the crisis.  He supported United Nations reform, including to revitalize the Assembly and to make the Council more democratic and representative, particularly for Africa.  Algeria had contributed to decolonization in Africa, enjoyed peace with its neighbours and was working towards regional integration.  It was a candidate for membership in the Human Rights Council in 2014-2016.  He stressed the need to fight Islamophobia, which had been used to commit acts of terrorism.  He condemned the tragic events sparked by the anti-Muslim video and violent acts against diplomatic personnel and installations.  He proposed holding an initiative under United Nations auspices to identify ways to prevent hate crimes.  The responsible, adequate use of freedom of expression was needed to give the world a more brotherly dialogue among peoples of different religions.

He welcomed Palestine as a new United Nations member, based on 1967 borders.  He recognized the legitimate, inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to sovereignty and self-determination.  Creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East was an important confidence-building measure.  He supported the efforts of Finland’s Secretary of State to serve as a facilitator of the upcoming conference on the Middle East.  He supported efforts towards sustainable development and urged Member States to shoulder their common but differentiated responsibility in terms of capacity-building, technology transfer and financing.  Algeria’s President had given new impulse to reform to ensure the rule of law and women’s empowerment.  Today, women accounted for 146 members of Parliament, or one third of the lower chamber.  Algeria had made progress towards democratic freedoms and it already had achieved the Millennium Development Goals.  It was selected as one of 50 countries to consult with the United Nations on the Millennium Development Goals and the post-2015 development agenda.

OLDEMIRO MARQUES BALÓI, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Mozambique, said the factors underlying present conflicts included the quest for self-determination, socio-political inclusion, natural resource use, wealth distribution, border disputes, and cultural and religious intolerance.  Their resolution, therefore, should be based on dialogue underpinned by truth and responsibility; internal participation aimed at reaching a “real” solution and sustainable development; and the fight against poverty.  The importance of those principles stemmed from his country’s experience.  “Constant and interactive” dialogue within Mozambican society had allowed the country to consolidate national unity, peace and poverty eradication, and further develop its participatory democracy.  The success of conflict management and resolution mechanisms required a re-evaluation of the mandates and conventional approaches to peacekeeping.  It also required the cooperation of all stakeholders, at national, regional and international levels.  Above all, conflict settlement was directly linked to understanding the nature of the conflict, and the integration of regional and subregional organizations.

He noted with concern the persistent tension and instability in Africa, and highlighted the establishment of a mediation unit within the Defence and Security Organ of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).  The Community’s mediation efforts to resolve the political deadlock in Madagascar and facilitate implementation of the Global Political Accord in Zimbabwe were making progress.  The Southern African Development Community appealed for the full lifting of the economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe, in order to contribute to the country’s economic recovery and that of other countries in the region with which Zimbabwe maintained close economic ties.  At the same time, SADC was concerned with the persistent instability and subsequent humanitarian crises in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Regarding Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique was committed to the search for a viable solution aimed at restoring constitutional order.  He was confident that progress in Somalia, and Sudan and South Sudan would contribute to those countries’ durable peace and stability.

Turning to the Middle East, he expressed concern at the lack of progress, asserting that the conflicts there challenged, not only the countries involved and the region, but also the international community.  Thus, he appealed to all relevant actors to engage in constructive dialogue and reiterated his conviction of the importance of the United Nations’ continuous engagement towards swift resolution.  He reaffirmed unequivocal support to the Palestinian cause, as well as to the two-State solution.  He also reaffirmed support for the international community’s involvement in the search for a sustainable solution to the self-determination cause in Western Sahara.  The delays in conducting the referendum agreed by all parties under United Nations auspices were baffling.  Additionally, Mozambique followed with concern the unjust economic embargo against Cuba.  The nature of all present challenges underscored the increasing relevance of multilateral mechanisms and the need for agenda reform of the United Nations system, including the Security Council and General Assembly.

In that connection, he advocated an approach that included a global strategic plan of action and a detailed programme for addressing conflicts; resource mobilization for peacekeeping missions; negotiation and implementation of sustainable political solutions; and long-term engagement, if necessary.  The Security Council must be more proactive in solving conflicts through full implementation of its resolutions.  Settlement of conflicts, after all, was a key condition for the pursuit of the internationally agreed development objectives, including the Millennium Development Goals, particularly for Africa and least developed countries.  Member States should act in a concerted manner in the search for a consensual and sustainable post-2015 development agenda.  Success of the Rio+20 outcome depended on an integrated approach between the economic, social and environmental components, he added.

ANIFAH AMAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Malaysia, said it was difficult to understand why those responsible for the release of the film, Innocence of Muslims, and the publication of offensive caricatures could resort to such actions, knowing those would provoke 2 billion Muslims.  He could only ascribe that to “blatant malicious intent”.  Peace-loving people and responsible Governments must work to prevent a “small minority of bigots to sow the seed of hatred between the Muslim world and the West”.  He was equally saddened by the ensuing violence; one life lost was too many.  All those involved were guilty of extremism and must be held accountable.  Such actions could not be defended under the pretext of human rights, freedoms, and liberties.  It was time to delve deeper into the heart of the problem, namely, the relationship between freedom of expression and social responsibility.

The authors of the Declaration of Human Rights, he was certain, did not have denigration in mind when they cited the need to protect freedom of expression.  “When we discriminate against gender, it is called sexism; when African Americans are criticized and vilified, it is called racism; when the same is done to the Jews, people call it anti-Semitism; but why is it when Muslims are stigmatized and defamed, it is defended as freedom of expression?” he asked.  The principle of moderation should be ingrained in all societies, as that implied a high degree of tolerance, trust and mutual understanding, and emphasized dialogue as an important tool for resolving disputes.  Moreover, it was important to practice moderation in light of the “rising tide of extremism”.  The Global Movement of Moderates had gained the recognition and support of the Commonwealth, Non-Aligned Movement, and ASEAN.

He said his country remained seriously concerned about the situation in Syria.  Any next step should be contemplated with the interest of the Syrian people in mind.  Ultimately, it was not about who was wrong or right, but about putting an end to the bloodshed and resolving the conflict, in a peaceful and inclusive manner.  The situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory was also bleak, as, for more than six decades, the people of Palestine saw their lands confiscated to make way for settlements, and they saw displacements and evictions, including of children.  Elsewhere, the international community was quick to call for action for those living under oppression, but it was “unashamed in not taking strong and decisive actions for the long-deprived Palestinians”.  Surely, the international community, especially the powerful and influential nations, could do more to bring Israel to the negotiating table.  With the declaration that emerged from the High-level Meeting on the Rule of Law, it was time for the international community to pressure Israel to fulfil its international obligations. 

Why was Palestine punished for wanting to become a rightful member of the United Nations? he wondered.  With 132 countries recognizing the State of Palestine, it was clear the issue was tied to another, bigger one, namely the veto power in the Security Council.  That was just another of the host of reasons why the United Nations, especially the Security Council, should be reformed.  There were so many instances where the Council had failed to take action when action was needed most.  “Time and time again, [the Council] has become a victim of its own creation”.  Its composition should also reflect current global realities.  It was ironic that the very institution formed in 1945 to promote and defend democracy was, itself, undemocratic.  Virtually every aspect of reform had been argued, and many proposals had been submitted, yet none had made headway.  Indeed, “we are nowhere closer to actual reform than when we first started,” he asserted.  He called on States to be “realistic” and find workable solutions to reform.

MURRAY MCCULLY, Minister for Foreign Affairs of New Zealand, said the Pacific Islands Forum had been making good progress in finding regional solutions to challenges, and hopefully this week’s meeting between the Secretaries-General of the Forum and the United Nations would mark the beginning of enhanced high-level engagement between them and greater understanding of the region’s needs.  The Pacific had addressed its security and stability challenges reasonably well, he said, noting that the most recent development was the withdrawal of the security component of a regional assistance mission in the Solomon Islands.  The United Nations, particularly the Security Council, could do more to acknowledge and support the regional leadership in the Pacific and elsewhere on peace and security matters.  While democracy, the rule of law and human rights had recently been challenged in Fiji, progress had been made towards holding free and fair elections there in 2014.

As Forum Chair, New Zealand had focused on several development priorities, he said.  Revenue from fishing was the main source of income for many of the region’s poor States, but they had received too small a return due to illegal fishing practices, unreported catch and inadequate management.  However, solid progress was being made in improving surveillance, training monitors and introducing better management practices to protect the region’s tuna stocks and ensure that their owners received their fair share of resources.  Renewable energy was also a high priority for the region, which was heavily dependent on fossil fuels for electricity and crippled by the high cost of imported diesel.  The Forum was working to correct the lack of progress in translating climate-change rhetoric into renewable-energy practice, he said, adding that by year’s end, Tokelau, fully dependent on fossil fuels, would be more than 90 per cent resourced with renewable solar electricity.  There had also been good progress on renewable energy in Tonga and the Cook Islands, thanks to New Zealand-funded projects, he said, noting that a renewable energy pledging conference early next year would aim to match donors, suppliers of concessionary and commercial finance, and others with renewable energy plans in neighbouring countries.

He expressed frustration over the Security Council’s inability to act on Syria.  “If 25,000 deaths, countless thousands injured, and many more thousands displaced and homeless is not enough to get the Security Council to act, then what does it take?” he asked, calling on the Assembly to play a more active role in the Council’s “absence”.  He also called for practical reforms holding the prospect of attracting widespread support so as to enable Council members to move past attempts to maximize individual positions, and expressed support for the so-called “intermediate solution” of creating a new category of elected seats for larger countries that felt underrepresented compared to permanent members.  “To ask the P5 to acknowledge and respect the genuine concerns of the wider membership by voluntarily accepting a curb on the exercise of the veto is an entirely reasonable and achievable objective,” he said.

New Zealand had been among the countries that had led the opposition to the veto when the United Nations had first been established, he recalled.  At that time, the permanent members had argued that the veto was necessary to protect their vital national interests, but they had exercised it routinely in circumstances having little to do with such interests.  He called on the permanent members to respect their original argument and voluntarily agree not to wield the veto in situations involving mass atrocities.  The Council and relevant Assembly organs should respond positively to requests from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for support in dealing with the conflict in Mali and the Sahel, he said.  New Zealand, a “small country, with a big voice, and an approach that is fair-minded and constructive”, was a candidate for election to the Council for the period 2015-2016, he said.  Concerning the text on Palestinian status, he said it was a very poor substitute for direct discussions between the Israeli and Palestinian leaders.  On Iran, he said the country must be told to step back from a course that risked a nuclear “breakout” in the region.  Meanwhile, he called on Israel’s Prime Minister to freeze settlement construction while negotiations proceeded and to engage in direct talks with the Palestinians.

FREDERICK MITCHELL, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration of the Bahamas, condemned the violence that had resulted in the deaths of the United States Ambassador to Libya and three compatriot diplomats, saying that increasing armed violence and crime should not be allowed to continue “if we are to save successive generations from a life steeped in violence and lawlessness”.  Although it had been more than a decade since the 2001 adoption of the United Nations Programme of Action on the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, the level and intensity of armed violence impacting the Bahamas had still not abated.  “Creating a safe Bahamas is a top priority for the Government”, he said, adding that it was committed to creating a national intelligence agency and a national firearms control strategy, which would entail the creation of a firearms department and database.  It also planned to enhance the operations of the defence force so it could more effectively control the country’s porous borders.

Providing reliable and affordable energy might be the single largest factor affecting future development in the Bahamas, he said, noting that the issue was so important that the Prime Minister had made it a personal mission.  The Government had enacted legislation to foster the sustainable use and management of ecosystems through better land-use planning.  Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, it had also initiated actions to preserve fish stocks by introducing penalties for overfishing, ban long-line fishing, establish the Bahamas as a shark sanctuary, and expand protected marine areas.  In that regard, he welcomed the outcome of the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, saying it offered significant opportunities, particularly for small island developing States, like the Bahamas.

Stressing the need for a greater United Nations role in the area of international cooperation in tax matters, he joined the wider “Group of 77” developing countries and China in calling for the conversion of the Organization’s Committee of Experts on International Tax Matters into an intergovernmental subsidiary body of the Economic and Social Council.  He deplored the use by some States of domestic laws for extraterritorial effect in such areas as human trafficking, financial services and drug smuggling.  Such practices were misplaced and placed an unfair burden on small States, he said, adding that they could be interpreted as “a departure from the international norms of respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States”.

Turning to national economic trends, he said the Government’s imperatives included strengthening the domestic economy, creating jobs and achieving a higher standard of living.  The nation’s unemployment rate stood at 15.9 per cent, and 34 per cent for youth.  Gross national income (GNI) was significantly affected by a small population of wealthy expatriates whose high incomes skewed that measure away from true economic realities, he said, pointing out that the construct of per capita GNI, therefore, took on a unique interpretation in the context of developing countries like the Bahamas.  Such measurements should not be used as a pretext to restrict their access to financial resources, he stressed.  With the Assembly set to consider the scale assessments for the apportionment of expenses relating to the regular and peacekeeping budgets for 2013-2015, per capita GNI should not be accorded overriding weight in determining capacity to pay, he added.

AURELIA FRICK, Foreign Minister of Liechtenstein, recalled that when the Assembly had met in 2011, it had already been hearing many calls for an end to the crisis in Syria.  The situation had since turned into a civil war that “puts the United Nations to shame”.  Open divisions in the Security Council and little interest on the part of the parties to the conflict in United Nations-led mediation were evident, she said, describing such blatant disregard for the lives and rights of civilians as “simply shocking”.  The crisis was an existential challenge for the United Nations, which was only as effective as its political organs allowed it to be.

The Security Council remained unable to carry out its tasks because of disagreement among its permanent members, she said, adding that it was therefore essential that the General Assembly step in and play a more active role, as it had done on some occasions.  That was all the more important because the international community was faced with a failure to fulfil the responsibility to protect a civilian population, a principle adopted by the Assembly at the highest political level.  The stalemate in the Council illustrated the need to examine the way in which veto power was and could be used, without questioning its existence, she said.  Calling upon permanent Council members to acknowledge that the Charter did not grant them the right of veto “without any strings attached”, she asked them not to block any Council action aimed at preventing or ending genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes.

She went on to join Switzerland in calling on the Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court, which, celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, had enjoyed “astonishing success”.  Earlier this week, therefore, Liechtenstein had launched a ministerial-level initiative to support the Court, she said, stressing the particular need for political support where the Court’s investigations were based on referrals from the Council.  The obligation for the State in question to cooperate was based entirely on the Council’s authority, not on the Rome Statute, and the Council, therefore, must play a key role in ensuring that cooperation was forthcoming.  “We as States are also responsible to ensure that indicted individuals are arrested and transferred to the Court,” she said.  “Clearly, we must step up our efforts in this regard.”

The Court and the United Nations had an historic opportunity — for the first time since the Second World War — to facilitate the prosecution of the crime of aggression, she said.  “The prohibition of the illegal use of force is at the core of the Charter of the United Nations.”  Liechtenstein, after having presided over the Review Conference on the Rome Statute in Kampala, had become the first State to ratify the Kampala amendments in May, and had launched an initiative to support ratifications.  “Criminalizing the illegal use of force between States would be a very significant step forward in the promotion of the rule of law at the international level,” she said.  “Multilateral decision-making is efficient when there is sufficient political will.  It is effective when it has the necessary legitimacy to ensure full implementation.”

LUIS ALMAGRO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Uruguay, welcoming this year’s focus on the rule of law, said that principle was embedded in the essence of the United Nations.  Respect for the rule of law was also at the heart of the social contract that sustained Uruguay’s democratic system, constituting a pillar of its foreign policy.  It was inseparable from the national way of life and from institutional, political and economic development, he said.  That had not come about through a foreign-imposed political model, but had evolved from a deep internal process that prioritized free coexistence among Uruguayans.  In respecting such principles, Uruguay rejected coercive unilateral or extraterritorial measures that contravened the United Nations Charter, he said, notably citing the embargo on Cuba.

Uruguay had always defended the right to self-determination as a key principle of coexistence among States, he said.  In that context, there must be a peaceful and mutually accepted solution to the question of Western Sahara, based on international law, General Assembly and Security Council resolutions and respect for the will of the Saharan people.  Indeed, Uruguay had been an early promoter of the peaceful settlement of disputes, notably at the 1907 Hague Conference, when it had tried to introduce compulsory international arbitration, he recalled.  Since then, international efforts to build a fair, balanced system had not come to fruition, he said, stressing the need for countries to learn how to build mechanisms for political dialogue so as to enhance democracy.

Eliminating differences did not solve political problems, he said.  Democracy, good governance and effective multilateralism were essential for sustainable development.  Noting that South America had faced threats with a major ideological component, he said recent events in Ecuador and Paraguay showed that, despite the desire for institutional systems, threats to democracy persisted.  On the protection of human rights, he said Uruguay had been a member of the Human Rights Council since that body’s creation in 2006, and currently held its presidency.  In that capacity it advocated a new culture of dialogue and the application of incremental special procedures before the imposition of coercive measures — a two-way cooperative model.  Strongly condemning human rights violations in Syria, he called for an immediate end to the violence and the beginning of dialogue towards a peaceful solution.

APISAI IELEMIA, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Trade, Tourism, Environment and Labour of Tuvalu, said that his country, which had became the 189th member of the United Nations in 2000, sought to bring the issue of small island developing States to the fore in the Organization’s work.  “Does the UN hear the plea of small island developing States for fair treatment by the international community?” he asked.  Today, 12 years later, Tuvalu considered its lasting concern “almost totally unanswered”, he said.

While appreciating the work of various United Nations entities on small island developing States, the focus had been almost entirely on “stating and indefinitely reiterating” their challenges and problems, he continued.  There had been nearly 20 General Assembly resolutions and numerous reports of the Secretary-General on the subject.  Two United Nations conferences had been organized, and now new momentum was building up towards a third in 2014.  Small island developing States needed special treatment, just like least developed countries, he said.

“We are told SIDS cannot be considered and dealt with as a special category,” he continued.  “Therefore, SIDS are only an abstract notion deliberately kept undefined, because any clarity or any debate — on who they are and what precisely could be done for them — would be too challenging or disturbing.”  That seemingly accepted sense of work on small island developing States in the United Nations did not match Tuvalu’s vision of what the world body should be doing to support them.

He also said his country greatly appreciated the decision by the Economic and Social Council to note the recommendation of the Committee for Development Policy to graduate Tuvalu from the least-developed category and consider the issue at its next substantive session in 2013.  Although Tuvalu had met two of the three graduation criteria, there was an urgent need to revisit those guidelines to ensure that they reflected and captured the real economic situation of countries eligible for graduation.  Treating Tuvalu in the same way as other countries was a denial of what decades of United Nations advocacy had set in place, he said.  “If the geographical limitations and extreme vulnerabilities of Tuvalu do not justify special consideration, what is the purpose of special and differential treatment, the cornerstone of international cooperation?”

K. SHANMUGAM, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Law of Singapore, noted the uncertainty in the global economic situation, the diverse political pressures on national policies that led to protectionism and short-term thinking, saying “the multiplicity of interests makes finding consensus in international fora that much harder”.  As a result, countries had begun to turn for solutions to smaller, more exclusive groups outside the multilateral framework of the United Nations.  The G-20, for example, had been able to deal with some of the most pressing macroeconomic problems and had been instrumental in keeping the 2008 financial crisis from becoming a global depression.  It left out the vast majority of United Nations Member States, but the Global Governance Group had been established to strengthen engagement with them.

Even with the rise in importance of the G-20 and other such groupings, however, he said, it was important to strengthen existing multilateral institutions in order to achieve greater efficiency than the smaller groups could provide.  As frustrations mounted over the world body’s limitations, including the Security Council’s inability to act on Syria, “let us not forget that the UN and its organs, including the Security Council, can only do what its members choose to do”, he cautioned.  “The UN is an organization of sovereign States and has no more authority than its Members give it.  Any failure of the Security Council and the UN in maintaining peace and security represents a failure of the Member States themselves,” he declared.

“We should, therefore, support ongoing and new efforts aimed at strengthening the UN, instead of denigrating it”, he continued, pointing out the Organization’s unique ability to come up with global solutions due to its universal membership, legitimacy, experience and presence on the ground.  Efforts that should be supported included the significant expansion of United Nations mediation capabilities, as well as its good offices and peacekeeping efforts, which were necessary for mediation and the peaceful settlements of disputes.  Regarding the Security Council, he said his country had consistently called for an improvement in its working methods so as to ensure that power was “visibly and openly wielded to the greater good” and that its legitimacy was not undermined.  The long-term goal should be an effective system of international law and resilient mechanisms for peaceful dispute settlement, he said.

That required dialogue among Member States, he continued, adding that respect for the rule of law was critical in that regard.  Without it, “small States will lose their independence and autonomy and even the larger and stronger States can never feel entirely secure”, he said.  “Small States such as Singapore are vulnerable even at the best of times,” he added.  It was, therefore, important that small States actively support and participate in mechanisms for the maintenance of international rule of law, he stressed, noting that Singapore had used the International Court of Justice and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea to resolve disputes and speak up against violations.  The upcoming high-level conference of the Forum of Small States would address those commitments.

MOUSSA FAKI MAHAMAT, Minister for Foreign Affairs and African Integration of Chad, said the world was in an unprecedented period of tension, perhaps the most serious since the cold war.  From Afghanistan to Mali, from Libya to Syria, from the Palestinian crisis to Sudan and South Sudan, the current crises had considerable religious and cultural undertones that were difficult to address.  “Africa crystallizes all these scourges,” he said, citing in particular the situations in Mali, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan-South Sudan, where attempts to resolve disputes had failed.  The international community — and the United Nations in particular — had an obligation to establish peace by using all the available tools and mechanisms for resolving conflict.  There was a need to ponder the “form and effectiveness” of United Nations involvement in many conflicts around the world, he stressed.

Describing the crisis in Mali as mired in violent extremism and the trafficking of drugs, he asked whether the world could afford to remain inactive, given that the “disease” might spread across the Sahel region.  Recalling the recent high-level meeting on the Sahel organized by the Secretary-General, he commended the commitments made by France, ECOWAS and Mali itself to eradicate the “gangrene”.  For its part, the United Nations should speed up its efforts to pass a resolution authorizing an international military force in Mali, he emphasized.  Within the framework of subregional initiatives, he said, members of the Community of Sahel-Saharan Stateshad undertaken a regional reform which would incorporate the dimensions of the rule of law, and a meeting would be held in N’Djamena in November to adopt a revised text to that effect.

He said his country was drawing lessons from the difficulties that the United Nations had previously faced in Chad, recalling that the Government had requested the departure of the United Nations Mission in Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) several years ago.  Despite a huge budget and many resources, the Mission had not proven to be an effective deterrent of conflict, and had left the bulk of its work to a national force of 600 Chadian men and women, he recalled.  Additionally, after the Mission’s departure, Chad had decided to authorize a force to support internally displaced persons, and requested international support.  To date, the assistance requested, estimated at $4 million per year, was still not forthcoming, he said.  Reiterating a special appeal launched last year, he asked the international community to reconsider and address that issue.

“ Africa greatly needs international solidarity”, not only to address the crises sweeping through it but in its development, he stressed.  The Millennium Development Goals had only been partially met or not at all.  Poverty, unemployment and despair pushed young Africans into extremism or led them to seek opportunities elsewhere around the world.  African States must create enabling conditions for development and prosperity, he said, adding that Chad was continuing the necessary political reforms to that end.  For the first time, the country was a candidate for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council during its 2013 elections, he said, calling for that body’s expansion and a permanent seat for Africa with the right of veto.

HAMADY OULD HAMADY, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Mauritania, said his country was organizing a peaceful transition from repressive regimes towards a democracy based on constitutional institutions and a series of laws guaranteeing political, individual and collective freedoms.  It had committed to agreements on settling the refugee situation with Senegal, and was committed to efforts aimed at reforming the United Nations, notably the Security Council, in which two additional permanent seats should be established for African and Arab countries, he said.

Commending the outcome of the Rio+20 Conference, he said he also appreciated the results concerning the fight against the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.  However, many developing countries were far from winning the race to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, which had been affected by a drop in foreign investment, among other things.  Rich countries must honour their obligations on development financing, he stressed.  For its part, Mauritania had launched the Hope Plan 2012, a $170 million emergency agricultural intervention project that provided food, animal feed and drinking water, among other things, with a view to reduce hunger.  The Government had introduced other programmes to bolster the health sector.

Regarding the Sahel region, he expressed concern that it had become a sanctuary for organized crime, terrorism and trafficking in drugs, arms, munitions and human beings.  Chad was also concerned about the situation in Mali and hoped the Security Council would take action to re-establish governmental authority throughout its territory.  Condemning the coup d’état, he reiterated Chad’s support for a united Mali, noting that Mauritania had done its best to accommodate Malian refugees.  Conscious of the links between security, development and democracy, Mauritania’s Armed Forces were active against armed terrorist groups that threatened peace, he said.

Turning to other current situations, he said he was very concerned about the escalation of violence in Syria, and expressed support for the Joint Special Representative’s efforts to open a path to finding a solution.  Chad was pleased with the democratic transitions in Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt and Libya, and hoped a peaceful solution would be found on all pending issues between Sudan and South Sudan.  Satisfied with the recent elections in Somalia, he expressed hope that peace and security would endure after two decades of armed conflict.  Mauritania was closely following developments concerning Western Sahara and supported the Secretary-General’s efforts to find a lasting solution that benefitted both parties.

Turning to the Arab-Israeli situation, he said it posed grave threats to international peace and security.  He invited the international community to approve the Palestinian request for enhanced status at the United Nations.  “This is the only way to end the suffering of the people,” he said.  He also condemned Israel’s embargo on the Gaza Strip, the crimes perpetrated by the Israeli war machine and the destruction of Palestinian infrastructure.  Promoting the culture of peace and the values of tolerance among peoples and civilizations was the right way to safeguard peace and security in the world, he said, adding that Mauritania rejected any form of terrorism or extremism.  The noble ideals that had guided the United Nations since inception would only be respected if the world’s peoples could benefit from the potential of development while respecting the values of freedom and equity, he said.

ALI AHMED KARTI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sudan, said his country had suffered a long conflict lasting more than six decades.  It had hampered peace, stability and development, and its effects had been felt in the entire region.  Based on Sudan’s commitment to peace, and United Nations instruments for the peaceful settlement of disputes, “difficult, thorny” negotiations had begun, culminating in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.  The Government of Sudan was committed to implementing that accord in the prescribed time frame, he said, citing the referendum in which the people of South Sudan had decided to secede.  Sudan had immediately recognized the new country and lent it support, but delays in drafting important agreements had led to many tensions between the two States, he said.  The adoption of the African Union Peace and Security Council Road Map of April 2012, as well as Security Council resolution 2046 (2012) had marked the beginning of a new phase of serious negotiations under the African Union High-level Implementation Panel.  Most recently, a meeting, held in Ethiopia between Sudan and South Sudan on 27 September had adopted an important framework agreement for cooperation, he said, adding that none of those efforts would have taken place without Sudan’s demonstrated willingness to cooperate, and its firm commitment to peace, stability and development.  Attempts to distort the country’s image and leadership were, therefore, devoid of any substance.

He went on to say that his country remained determined to tackle the reasons for war and strife, despite unfair sanctions imposed by the United States.  It had more than once demonstrated its commitment to good-neighbourliness, and had brought an end to the longest war on the African continent.  Indeed, the remaining issues were few, and efforts to tackle them were under way.  Despite the lack of agreement on the final status of Abyei, Sudan supported the Abyei Protocol and the Abyei Agreement of June 2012, as well as other relevant accords.  He stressed the important role of the international community, which must fulfil its responsibility to help both parties, as well as all the promises made during the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement by providing funds and support in kind.  Expressing regret that the statement made this week by the representative of South Sudan had expressed that State’s support for those bearing arms in South Kordofan and Blue Nile States, he wondered whether that phrase had been drafted before the signing of this week’s agreement in Addis Ababa.

As for Darfur, he said peace negotiations had led to the signing of an agreement in Doha, Qatar, a document accepted and supported widely by the people of Darfur and the international community.  “We have turned a new page in Darfur”, he said, calling on the international community to protect and secure the peace by countering armed rebel groups that had refused to sign the document.  A donors’ conference for the rebuilding of Darfur would be held in Doha in the coming months, he said, urging Member States to attend.  Turning to reform of the United Nations and its main and subsidiary bodies, he said that issue must take on the importance it deserved.  “Reform will not be genuine unless the General Assembly can take on its full role […] and play it in a balanced, transparent manner.”  The Security Council must also be reformed, as it no longer represented “the modern situation”.  Sudan was concerned about controversial concepts such as humanitarian intervention, responsibility to protect, political and economic sanctions, and other efforts to politicize international justice.  In that regard, it refused and rejected the approach of the International Criminal Court.

RIMBINK PATO, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Trade and Immigration of Papua New Guinea, said his country, which had celebrated the thirty-seventh anniversary of its independence in mid-September, had recently held successful general elections, which had culminated in the convening of its ninth National Parliament and the formation of a new Government.  Thanking all those who had helped with the process, including neighbouring countries in the region and the United Nations, he said Papua New Guinea’s short history was a testament to the will of its people to continue consolidating democracy according to the rule of law.

Highlighting his Government’s key development priorities for the next five years, he said it would, over the long term, culminate in the “Vision 2020” plan.  The economy would be strengthened, trade would be diversified and investment cooperation would be bolstered, all towards ensuring that the people’s basic needs were met.  Papua New Guinea was also investing in the future of its children by providing free quality elementary and secondary education, in addition to further subsidizing education at higher levels.  It was rehabilitating its major infrastructure — roads, transportation hubs, ports and health and education facilities — as well as increasing funding support to ensure the delivery of basic health and social services countrywide.

“Revitalization of our institutional and human resources capacity to take the country to higher development level is also a major priority,” he continued, noting also that the Government was adopting a “zero tolerance” policy on corruption.  To that end, it was establishing an independent anti-corruption commission to enhance implementation of the relevant United Nations treaty.  That and other initiatives would help improve governance, enhance basic service delivery, and provide opportunities for more stakeholders to take part in development, he said.  As for the economy, the annual growth rate was around 8 per cent, he said, underscoring the country’s political stability and solid macroeconomic management.

He went on to say that a sovereign wealth fund was being created to ensure professional management of revenues generated by the country’s liquefied natural gas project and other extractive industries.  “We hope to share this wealth with our pacific neighbours in an appropriate manner,” he said.  On other matters, he said Papua New Guinea continued to benefit from a strong United Nations presence, which the Government highly valued.  It had been a “self-starter” country in implementing the “Delivering as One” initiative, and while that strategy had been working well since 2006, he urged bilateral partners to abide by the principles of the Paris Declaration and the Accra Agenda for Action on aid effectiveness in order to ensure that development assistance was better coordinated.

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