‘The Fasten Seat Belt Light is Illuminated’, Warns Secretary-General, Summoning World Leaders at Start of Annual Debate to ‘Find and Nurture Seeds of Hope’

GA/11560
24 September 2014

‘The Fasten Seat Belt Light is Illuminated’, Warns Secretary-General, Summoning World Leaders at Start of Annual Debate to ‘Find and Nurture Seeds of Hope’

The world’s fasten seat belt light is illuminated, with turbulence testing the multilateral system, national institutions and people's lives, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the General Assembly today as he opened the sixty-ninth session’s general debate.

It had been “a terrible year” for the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter, he said, citing many challenges in such places as the Central African Republic, Gaza, Ukraine, South Sudan, Mali and the Sahel, Somalia, Nigeria, Iraq and Syria.  Yet, he declared, crises like war, poverty and ignorance that were caused by people could be stopped by people.

“It may seem as if the world is falling apart,” he said, as crises pile up and disease spreads, but leadership was precisely about finding the seeds of hope and nurturing them into something bigger. “That is our duty.  That is my call to you today,” he told the assembly of Heads of State and Government and other senior Government officials.

On peace and security threats, Mr. Ban said Security Council unity was crucial, because when it acted together, its members delivered results.  He noted in particular agreement to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons programmes and to establish a peacekeeping operation for the Central African Republic, as well as timely support for a peace framework in the Great Lakes region of Africa.  In contrast, he added, disunity about Syria had resulted in grave human suffering.

Spotlighting the “global conversation” under way on a post-2015 agenda, Mr. Ban said the Millennium Development Goals showed their power by cutting global poverty, child mortality and maternal deaths in half. It was crucial to empower women and girls, he said, stressing that climate change would require a universal agreement and the Ebola crisis, a global response 20 times greater than now.

Also delivering an opening statement was General Assembly President Sam Kutesa of Uganda, who said that, although the world today was different from when the United Nations was founded in 1945, one thing had remained the same:  the need to find global solutions to global challenges.  Recalling the words of Mahatma Gandhi, he urged delegates to "be the change" they wanted to see in the world.

He also called for accelerated progress in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, and urged negotiating parties to put poverty eradication and hunger at the core of the new post-2015 development agenda.  Ensuring adequate means for implementation was the greatest responsibility facing the international community, which was why he made this year’s discussion theme "Delivering on and Implementing a Transformative Post-2015 Development Agenda".

Nearly 40 Heads of State and Government spoke in today’s general debate, laying out issues of concern to their countries.  Among them was United States President Barack Obama, noting what he called “pervasive unease in the world”.  He cited new dangers, from which no single nation could insulate itself, including the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and violent extremism.  Stressing the importance of abiding by international laws and norms, he said “Russia’s actions in Ukraine challenged the post-war order”.

Mr. Obama underlined the need to address the danger posed by religiously motivated fanatics, such as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).  The United States, he said, did not intend to send its troops to occupy foreign lands, but it would support Iraqis and Syrians fighting to reclaim their communities, by using air strikes to roll back ISIL.  He urged Muslim society to reject the ideology of Al-Qaida and ISIL, which, he said, would wilt and die with consistent exposure and confrontation in the light of day.

François Hollande, France’s President, said he was addressing the General Assembly with a high level of emotion, following the assassination today of his compatriot, Hervé Gourdel, by a group linked to ISIL in Algeria.  He urged the international community to combat terrorism under the flag of values of human dignity and freedom.  ISIL was not just a threat to the region, but to the whole world, and France was bringing in aerial support to weaken its power, he said.

Highlighting a litany of disturbing trends, the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said a broad swath of nations, ranging from Iraq to Syria, Libya to Afghanistan and Ukraine, witnessed deep scars on the conscience of humanity, while poor countries struggled with hunger, malnutrition, communicable diseases and lack of education, while rich ones enjoyed prosperity.  Climate change threatened the whole world, and because all of those issues concerned all of humanity, they were the purview of the United Nations.

Touching on another dominant theme was Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, who said that, when the Millennium Development Goals had been adopted in 2000, Africa had not had a collective vision.  However, it had worked seriously to reach those objectives and today spoke with one voice.  African leaders had taken important decisions on key issues for the continent.  At the same time, he acknowledged the emergence of troubling problems, including the sudden outbreak and rapid spread of Ebola in West Africa.  Given the scope of that challenge, he urged the international community to work efficiently for the provision of vaccines and treatment, support for preventive interventions, and increased investment in scientific research.

Several speakers today drew attention to the dividends of democracy, including the President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, who described how her country had emerged from two decades of dictatorship 30 years ago.  Democracy, she said, had enabled economic stability, as evidenced by the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) announcement that her country was no longer on the World Hunger Map.  Successful economic policies had generated 21 million jobs and increased the minimum wage, and had also reduced inequality, she added.

The need for Security Council reform was another area of focus, with Mongolian President Elbegdorj Tsakhia among those urging acceleration of that process, including the “long-overdue” expansion of both its permanent and non-permanent membership.  Chile’s President, Michelle Bachelet Jeria, sought serious debate on limiting the veto right in the context of the responsibility to protect.

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández Alvarado called for special attention to the growing number of unaccompanied children migrating to the United States, due to violence, drug trafficking and a lack of economic opportunities for their parents at home.  Thousands had been victims of violence, rape and organ trafficking; many had died trying to cross the United States-Mexico border.  “We must create a multinational force capable of successfully confronting this transnational phenomenon,” he said, adding that, yesterday, he handed the Secretary-General the “Alliance for Prosperity” plan, which provided a blueprint for support and opportunities for Central Americans everywhere.

Also speaking today were Heads of State and Government, as well as Ministers of Uganda, Spain, Republic of Korea, Qatar, Armenia, Egypt, Jordan, Mexico, Finland, Indonesia, Argentina, Bolivia, , Dominican Republic, Kenya, Costa Rica, Nigeria, Rwanda, Montenegro, South Africa, Switzerland, Chad, Estonia, Equatorial Guinea, Sri Lanka, Venezuela, United Kingdom, Denmark, Ukraine and Turkmenistan.

The Assembly will meet again at 9 a.m. on Thursday, 25 September, to continue its general debate.

Opening Remarks

BAN KI-MOON, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said that every year hope filled the General Assembly Hall, the hope embodied in the Charter of the Organization.  But this year, the horizon of hope had darkened.  Cold War ghosts had returned to haunt the present.  "Diplomacy is on the defensive, undermined by those who believe in violence.  Diversity is under assault by extremists who insist that their way is the only way.  Disarmament is viewed as a distant dream, sabotaged by profiteers of perpetual warfare.  But leadership is precisely about finding the seeds of hope and nurturing them into something bigger."

It had been a terrible year for the principles enshrined in the Charter, he said, citing many challenges in such places as the Central African Republic, Gaza, Ukraine, South Sudan, Mali and the Sahel, Somalia, Nigeria, Iraq and Syria.  The world's "fasten seat belt" light was illuminated.  Turbulence was testing the multilateral system, national institutions and people's lives.  Human rights provided one touchstone for global response.  The Human Rights Up Front initiative aimed to place human rights at the centre of thinking and efforts in the field.

The unity of the Security Council was crucial, he said, citing some successes such as the elimination of Syria's chemical weapons programmes; agreement on a peacekeeping operation for the Central African Republic; and timely support for a peace framework in the Great Lakes region of Africa.  In contrast, disunity about Syria had resulted in grave human suffering and loss of the body's credibility. 

Global poverty, child mortality and maternal deaths had been cut in half, though more remained to be done, he said.  Those gains showed the power of the Millennium Development Goals and what could be done by working together.  An inspiring global conversation was taking place on an agenda for the next 15 years, including the Conference on Small Island Developing States, the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples and the General Assembly special session on population and development.

At the end of 2014, he would present a synthesis report that would set the stage as Member States began their negotiations for the post-2015 agenda.  Transformation was the international community's goal.  But the world's potential could not be unleashed 100 per cent by excluding 50 per cent of its people, namely, women and girls.  Climate change was integral to all hopes, he said, describing yesterday's Climate Summit as a landmark event.  That momentum must be converted into a meaningful, universal climate agreement in Lima this year and in Paris in 2015.  The outbreak of Ebola in West Africa was an unprecedented crisis, and although the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) had been established, the global response needed a 20-fold surge in care, tracking, transport and equipment.

It had been a century since the outbreak of World War I and 70 years since the founding of the United Nations, he noted.  "Yet the world is still not as peaceful as it could or should be."  There were more man-made crises than natural disasters — war, poverty and ignorance.  Crises caused by people could be stopped by people.  "I still have hope.  I draw it from the Charter, our enduring guide in times of dramatic challenge and change," he declared.

SAM KUTESA (Uganda), President of the General Assembly, said that this session and the coming year would be momentous, as it was the seventieth anniversary of the founding of the United Nations and the anniversary of the "groundbreaking" Beijing conference on women, among others.  When the United Nations was founded, it was an untested vision, comprising only 51 countries, he said.  The world today was different from how it had been in 1945, but one thing remained the same:  The need to find global solutions to global challenges.  At this time of unprecedented historical opportunity, he urged delegates to recall the words of Mahatma Gandhi:  to "be the change" they wanted to see in the world.

Since the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals, millions of peoples' lives had improved, he said.  A number of targets had been met and some were on course to be met, while others were unlikely to be reached by the target date.  Sanitation targets were lagging, and too many women still died in childbirth.  The international community had to intensify efforts to accelerate progress, and the eradication of poverty and hunger should be at the core of the new post-2015 development agenda.  Ensuring adequate means for implementing that agenda was the greatest responsibility facing the international community, and that was why he made the theme of this year's General Assembly, "Delivering on and Implementing a Transformative Post-2015 Development Agenda".

Many issues and challenges would require the international community's efforts this session, he said.  Poverty eradication must be at the forefront of the development agenda, and inequities must be addressed.  Improving market access also depended on infrastructure development, an area where developing countries faced particular challenges, which reduced their competitiveness.  The empowerment of women, and in particular increasing their participation in leadership and decision-making positions, was important, as was their economic empowerment.  The topic was of such importance that a high-level thematic debate on that topic would be convened in March 2015.

The unprecedented spread of Ebola in some West African countries was the background for this Assembly's recent adoption of a resolution establishing UNMEER, he said.  Other crises also faced the world, with sea levels rising, desertification occurring, and large bodies of water becoming acidified.  Climate change was a "dangerous reality" of our time.  An increase in violent conflicts around the world meant that strengthening cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations was vital.  The international community had to stand united to combat challenges that could threaten entire regions.  Further, reform of the Security Council was "urgent", given that the current composition remained as it had been at the Organization’s founding, when the United Nations had but 51 Member States.

Statements

DILMA ROUSSEFF, President of Brazil, opening the general debate, noted that it was the eve of elections in her country — elections that would determine the Presidency, State governors and a significant portion of Congress.  That balloting was a celebration of the democracy Brazil achieved almost 30 years ago, after two decades of dictatorial rule.  Through democracy, Brazil had advanced towards economic stability, as evidenced by the announcement by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) that her country was no longer on the World Hunger Map.  That success had been the result of economic policies, which had generated 21 million jobs and increased the minimum wage, and had also reduced inequality.

Regarding other developments, particularly in the area of health care, she said her country had reduced child mortality before the deadline established by the Millennium Development Goals, made universal access to primary education a reality and was now focused on achieving the same with regard to secondary education.  Affirmative action policies had facilitated a mass enrolment of poor, indigenous and Afro-descended students into universities.  Additionally, her country had been able to resist its worst consequences of the major global economic crisis triggered in 2008 by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, and instead had followed through with income distribution by stimulating growth and employment, and maintaining investments in infrastructure.

Nonetheless, she said, it was still imperative to eliminate the disparity between the growing importance of developing countries in the global economy and their insufficient representation in the decision-making of international financial institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.  The delay in expansion of voting rights of developing countries was unacceptable.  On other matters, she noted the significant challenges world leaders faced in the areas of peace, collective security and the environment, and called for the long overdue reform of the Security Council.

Stressing that climate change was among the greatest challenges faced at present, she said that Brazil had been doing its part by committing to a voluntary reduction of 36 to 39 per cent of projected emissions by 2020, and reducing deforestation by 79 per cent between 2010 and 2013, among other endeavours.  In its fight against discrimination, Brazil was as committed to combating homophobia as it was to combating racism and violence against women.  Its Supreme Court had recognized same-sex civil unions, guaranteeing the full range of civil rights to all, illustrating her country’s belief in the dignity of all human beings and the universality of fundamental rights.

Further, on the rights of citizens, she recalled an important 2013 discussion on human rights and the Internet promoted by Brazil and Germany, noting that her country intended to deepen that discussion in the current session.  She was pleased by the international community’s engagement in enhancing the current governance architecture of the Internet and noted the holding, at Brazil’s initiative, of the Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance — NETmundial — in São Paulo in April.  Her country was committed to working on that issue further, and stood ready to tackle other significant challenges faced by the United Nations and its Member States.

BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States, said that the international community had come together "at a crossroads between war and peace, between disorder and integration, between fear and hope".  There were signposts of progress worldwide.  The shadow of world war that had existed at the founding of the United Nations had been lifted, and the prospect of war between major Powers had declined.  More people lived under Governments they elected, and hundreds of millions of human beings had been freed from poverty, with the proportion of those living in extreme poverty cut in half.  The world’s economy continued to strengthen after its worst financial crisis, and indeed, now was the best time in human history to be born, as people were more likely than ever to become literate, healthy, and free to pursue dreams.

"And yet," he said, “there is a pervasive unease in the world — a sense that the very forces that have brought us together have created new dangers."  It was difficult for any single nation to insulate itself from global challenges, including the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa and the Russian Federation's aggression in Europe.  Those problems demanded urgent attention, but too often, Governments failed to enforce global norms when it was inconvenient to do so.

He said that there were two defining questions at the root of many global challenges — whether the nations here today would be able to renew the purpose of the United Nations’ founding, and whether they would together reject the “cancer” of violent extremism.  All nations, big or small, must meet their responsibility to observe and enforce international norms.  Russia’s actions in Ukraine challenged the post-war order.  That country believed that "might makes right", in a world in which one nation’s borders could be redrawn by another, and civilized people were not allowed to recover the remains of their loved ones in a plane crash because of the truth it might expose.

America believed that "right makes might", he declared, adding that a different path was available — the path of diplomacy and peace.  If the Russian Federation took that path — one that for stretches of the post-cold war period resulted in prosperity for the Russian people — then sanctions could be lifted.  In past years, the two sides had been able to reduce their nuclear stockpiles under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and cooperate to remove and destroy Syria’s declared chemical weapons.  That was the kind of cooperation the United States was prepared to pursue again if the Russian Federation changed course.  America was also pursuing a diplomatic resolution to the Iranian nuclear issue, he said, stressing that it was possible to reach a solution that met Iran's energy needs.  The United States was also committed to a development agenda that eradicated extreme poverty by 2030, and was pursuing ambitious reductions in its carbon emissions.

Turning to the violent extremism ravaging so many parts of the Muslim world, he quoted President John F. Kennedy:  “Terror is not a new weapon.  Throughout history it has been used by those who could not prevail, either by persuasion or example.”  America had waged a focused campaign against Al-Qaida and its associates.  At the same time, the United States was not and never would be at war with Islam.  That religion taught peace.  There was a need to take concrete steps to address the danger posed by religiously motivated fanatics.  The terrorist group known as “ISIL” must be degraded and ultimately destroyed, as it had terrorized all whom they encountered in Iraq and Syria.  Mothers, sisters and daughters had been subjected to rape and innocent children gunned down.  The United States did not intend to send its troops to occupy foreign lands.  Instead, it would support Iraqis and Syrians fighting to reclaim their communities.  It would use its military might in a campaign of air strikes to roll back ISIL.  Muslim communities must explicitly, forcefully and consistently reject the ideology of Al-Qaida and ISIL, which would wilt and die with consistent exposure and confrontation in the light of day.

The Security Council would today adopt a resolution that underscored the responsibility of States to counter violent extremism, he said.  But resolutions must be followed by tangible commitments.  Next year, Member States should be prepared to identify the concrete steps they had taken to counter extremist ideologies.  The cycle of conflict — especially sectarian conflict — must be ended as no one was winning that fight.  A brutal civil war in Syria had already killed nearly 200,000 people and displaced millions more.  Iraq had come close to plunging back into the abyss.  Together with partners, America was training and equipping the Syrian opposition to counter ISIL terrorists and the brutality of the regime of Bashar al-Assad.  However, the only lasting solution to Syria’s civil war was political:  an inclusive transition of administration that responded to the legitimate aspirations of all citizens, regardless of ethnicity or creed.

The countries of the Arab and Muslim world must focus on the extraordinary potential of their people, especially the youth, he continued.  To those young people, he said:  "You come from a great tradition that stands for education, not ignorance; innovation, not destruction; the dignity of life, not murder."  Where women were full participants in politics and the economy, societies were more likely to succeed.  Such positive change need not come at the expense of tradition and faith.  Ultimately, the task of rejecting sectarianism and extremism was a generational one for the people of the Middle East themselves.  No external Power could bring about a transformation of hearts and minds, but America would be a respectful and constructive partner.  On the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis, he said, "the status quo in the West Bank and Gaza is not sustainable."  He stood up for the principle that Israelis, Palestinians, the region and the world would be more just with two States living side by side, in peace and security.

America’s critics, Mr. Obama said, would be quick to point out that his country had plenty of problems within its own borders.  That was true.  It had its own racial and ethnic tensions.  But America welcomed the scrutiny of the world; it was a country that had steadily worked to address its problems and made its union more perfect.  America was not the same as it was 100 years ago, 50 years ago, or even a decade ago because it fought for its ideals; because it was willing to criticize itself, held leaders accountable, and insisted on a free press and independent judiciary; and because it addressed differences in the open space of democracy with respect for the rule of law.

YOWERI KAGUTA MUSEVENI, President of Uganda, greeted assembled delegates making note that the President of the General Assembly was his country's Foreign Minister.  Reviewing historical facts, he traced current problems affecting Africa back to events from the Middle Ages, when European colonization began.  Some positive change was beginning to take effect, however, in particular an increase in the continent's middle class and purchasing power, which was growing at a rate of 3.2 per cent each year.  This growth was occurring despite inadequate infrastructure, which still limited the continent's potential.

Indeed, he continued, there were several "bottlenecks" hindering African development.  Foremost among them was the "pseudo-ideology of sectarianism of religion or tribe", which was fuelling most of the conflicts in Africa and causing havoc in the Middle East and North Africa.  This ideology, which resulted from "uninformed outsiders" linking up with "pseudo-ideologists", was not aligned with the people's real interests.  "Only parasites revel in such schemes," he said, adding that ideology should be banished and treated with contempt.

Turning to the situation in Uganda, he said it was undergoing a socioeconomic transformation, building numerous infrastructure projects.  Those included roads, electricity systems, railways, information and communications technology networks, a universal education system and a pan-Ugandan health system.  Additionally, Ugandan markets had been integrated with East African local markets and the Common Market for East and Southern Africa.  Uganda welcomed investments, trade access and tourists, and in some cases welcomed security partnerships approved by the African Union and other Member States.

DON FELIPE VI, King of Spain, said it was a great honour and privilege to address the General Assembly at the beginning of his reign.  Presenting the potential benefits to the international community of a “renewed” Spain, he highlighted the pursuit of peace, liberty, justice and human rights in all nations.  Today, his country was exemplary in its commitment to the dignity of the human being, in its solidarity with the underprivileged and in its firm will to build a better reality for all.  Recalling that it would soon be four decades since the beginning of Spain’s political transition from a dictatorship to a democracy, he said his country had built a social and democratic order based on the rule of law, which protected all citizens. 

On economic development, he said Spain, particularly since the second half of the last century, had placed its economy among the first in the world and among the most open and competitive.  It strongly supported a global and sustainable way of economic development that generated employment and protected individuals and their social rights; it was also respectful of the environment and mindful of international norms.  On cultural diversity, he said the strength of Spanish as a universal language, which was shared by dozens of countries and hundreds of millions of people on all continents, contributed significantly to a greater cultural and linguistic diversity in the global arena.  In that regard, the Spanish language must fully assume its formal position as an official language of the United Nations and as a working language that was fully used and represented.

He also said that continental integration of the European Union was an objective of his country in its pursuit of a Europe that was more united and cohesive.  Likewise, Spain aimed to contribute towards the stability of the Middle East and the Arab world, recognizing that peace in those regions was essential to achieving peace in the world.  The international community’s primary objective must be to prevent wars, he stressed, adding that should it fail to do so, it must protect and assist the innocent victims.  A tapestry version of the Guernica by the Spaniard Pablo Picasso, which hung outside the Security Council entrance, served to remind all of the fatal consequences of the international community’s inability to prevent and resolve conflicts.  “When brutality triumphs in one part of the world, no one is beyond its reach.  We are all its victims.”

As part of its unconditional support to the United Nations and in service of the international community, he said his country was taking another step forward as a candidate for a non-permanent seat in the Security Council for the period 2015-2016.  As there could be no lasting peace or security without sustainable development, Spain had contributed $30 billion to global development, nearly $1 billion of which was earmarked for attainment of the Millennium Development Goals through a fund created by Spain and co-led by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) — the largest contribution made by any single country.

Recalling that it had been 30 years since his father, King Juan Carlos I, had addressed the Assembly for the first time, he said that today Spain was open to a new age and remained ready to be an active and responsible member of the international community to uphold a stronger United Nations.

MOHAMED OULD ABDEL AZIZ, President of Mauritania, said he was pleased to present what Africans had done in terms of achievement and development.  At the same time, he appreciated the challenges facing their continent, as well as their expectations of the international community.  He also understood their aspirations in the construction of their continent’s future.  Several African nations had experienced high levels of growth despite the global economic crisis.  The average rate had reached nearly 6 per cent, owing to wise economic policies that had been adopted by African Governments, such as those that promoted local and foreign investment, the creation of new infrastructure and a particular focus on societies’ most vulnerable members.

He said that the achievement of food sufficiency, the development of agricultural industries and poverty reduction in rural areas constituted core objectives of the African Union.  Hence, 2014 had been declared the year of agriculture and self-sufficiency in Africa.  The agricultural sector employed close to 60 per cent of its workforce and represented one third of the continent’s gross domestic product (GDP).  In that framework, the African Summit had recommended that 10 per cent of African State budgets be allocated to agriculture. 

When the Millennium Development Goals had been adopted in 2000, Africa did not have a collective vision, he added, but it nonetheless had worked seriously to reach those objectives and today spoke with one voice.  African leaders had taken important decisions on key issues for the continent.  However, despite such efforts, which included the fight against AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, and increasing access to resources, they still needed improvement.  The sudden outbreak of the Ebola virus posed a major challenge due to the rapid spread of the disease and the fact that measures to contain it remained insufficient.  As Africa had not succeeded in facing that epidemic, he appealed to the international community to work efficiently for the provision of vaccines and treatment, support preventive interventions, increase investments in scientific research and provide assistance to affected countries.

On the phenomenon of illegal immigration and its consequent tragedies, he called on the international community to find rapid and efficient solutions, stressing that, “we cannot just count the bodies washed up on the beaches or undertake rescues at sea of thousands in unsafe and cramped boats.”  On the other hand, African society had allowed positive discrimination to guarantee more gender justice in favour of women, while youth were prioritized in development plans and national policies.  As it was estimated that the African population would reach three billion by 2050, with youth accounting for two thirds of that number, investments in infrastructure and social services were essential. 

In the area of security, he said the fight against terrorism remained an international responsibility, and called for close collaboration.  Despite the fruitful cooperation between the United Nations and the African Council, the situations in Somalia, Libya, northern Nigeria and Central Africa remained concerning as did the situations in Syria, Iraq and Ukraine.  The African continent aimed to reinforce its presence in international institutions, enhancing their representation of peoples and nations.  In that regard, Africa, which played a significant role in the world community, must be justly represented through a permanent seat in the Security Council.

MICHELLE BACHELET JERIA, President of Chile, acknowledged that the Security Council had helped to address and prevent crises through robust peacekeeping operations, but noted that, regrettably, it had not been able to reach an agreement on what action to take on many occasions.  That highlighted the need for reform, which required political decisions.  Calling for a serious debate on limiting the right of veto in the case of crimes involving the responsibility to protect, she supported the Security Council’s enlargement and permanent membership for Germany, Brazil, Japan and India.

She was concerned about the 3 million refugees created by the crisis in Syria, she continued, as well as the activities of terrorist groups such as “ISIS” and the “cruel violence” in Gaza.  Her country was prepared to increase their humanitarian commitments and would consider accepting refugees from those conflict zones.  Turning to Ukraine, she highlighted the need to respect the principle of territorial integrity and, at the same time, protect the rights of minorities.

The post-2015 development agenda was a great opportunity to tackle social and development issues through specific and measurable goals, she said.  In addition, issues concerning women, peace and security were priorities on the Security Council agenda.  Addressing climate change, she said that Chile had only a marginal effect on the problem, since it accounted for only 0.25 per cent of carbon emissions.  However, because it suffered the consequences, it wanted to be part of the solution.

Voicing her country’s aspiration to become a member of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, she also expressed interest in a greater coordination of initiatives and instruments to facilitate South-South cooperation by middle-income countries.  In that regard, the Government had enacted legal provisions to fully open the economy to imports from the 48 least developed countries without duties or quotas.

PARK GEUN-HYE, President of the Republic of Korea, highlighted the need to return to the United Nations its founding spirit of putting people first and promoting cooperation among nations.  The United Nations should play a central role in arranging more rapid and efficient responses.  In her call for prevention of the development and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, she underlined the urgency of resolving the North Korean nuclear issue, which she called the “single-greatest threat to peace on the Korean peninsula and in North-East Asia”.

About the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, she said that that country and the international community should take the necessary measures to implement the recommendations adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council last March.  To reinforce those efforts, the United Nations office would soon be set up in the Republic of Korea to investigate human rights abuses in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

As the post-2015 development goals were being set, the Republic of Korea, she went on, was ready to play a bridging role between developed and developing countries.  In particular, she expressed her support for the United Nations education initiatives, including the Secretary-General’s Global Education First Initiative.  She also promised that, as the host of the 2015 World Education Forum, her country would make efforts to reach an agreement on the new education objectives for the next 15 years.

She said climate challenge was not a burden, but an opportunity to unleash new value, markets and jobs through technology innovations.  As the host country of the Green Climate Fund and the Green Growth Global Institute, the Republic of Korea supported international efforts to strengthen developing countries’ mitigation and adaptation capacities.

With regard to the division of the Korean peninsula, she urged the international community to stand with them in tearing down what she called “the world’s last remaining wall of division”.  A unified Korea would be the starting point for a world without nuclear weapons; it would offer a fundamental solution to the North Korean human rights issue and help unblock a stable and cooperative North-East Asia.

SHEIKH TAMIM BIN HAMAD AL-THANI, Amir of Qatar, said that at this time when the safety and security of all humanity was being affected by the latest developments, compliance with the provisions of international law and respect for the principles of human rights were at the base of achieving international peace and security.  Turning to the situation in the Middle East, where he noted that the Gaza Strip had recently been destroyed on a large scale, he said that the "aggression" seen there amounted to a crime against humanity.  The Security Council should pass a resolution under Chapter VII of the Charter forcing Israel to take numerous steps ultimately leading to a permanent settlement of the Palestinian issue.

Turning to Syria, he lamented the fact that the international community had not acted when Qatar had warned precisely of today's scenario coming to pass.  The Syrian people had become stuck between the terrorism of the regime and that of extremist forces, which thrived in the "swamp of violence".  The international community should provide "all aspects" of humanitarian aid to the people of Syria, and the Security Council should support Syrians against the "terrorism of the regime" and terrorist forces.  The first danger, he said, had begotten the second.

Throughout the Middle East and North Africa, he said, terrorism threatened security and stability and hampered development.  All civilizations had known terrorism, but the communities from which it sprang were the most affected.  That scourge was hostile to diversity and pluralism, which enriched society.  The international community needed to stand beside Iraq to lay the foundations for a society free of sectarian and ethnic conflict.  In the same context, the Libyan people's aspirations must be supported.  Libyan political forces should follow the path of "national dialogue" to achieve a formula for the governance they want.

His country was encouraged by the successful transfer of power in Yemen, which he said was the outcome of national dialogue under the auspices of the United Nations, supported by the Security Council.  He warned against those who would offer sectarian conflict and factional interests in place of good governance.  On the subject of Qatar's national achievements, he listed his country's ranking as thirty-first globally on the United Nations Human Development Index, noting that it would continue to follow its national strategy for development in various fields.  Having contributed $2.2 billion in governmental humanitarian aid over the last five years, Qatar would also continue its active role in mediating and providing a platform for dialogue.

SERZH SARGSYAN, President of Armenia, affirming his country’s support for the initiatives of the President of the General Assembly and the effective shaping of a post-2015 agenda, called attention to the upcoming April 2015 centennial of the Armenian genocide, asserting that inadequate condemnation of the event had paved the way for future crimes of mass murder.  He emphatically thanked all those countries and individuals who had recognized and condemned it, “since denial is a phase of the crime of genocide.”

His country had not conditioned normalization of relations with Turkey on recognition of the genocide, and had initiated the process that led to the signing of the Zurich Protocols in 2009, he said.  However, the Turkish Government had now declared that it would not ratify the Protocols unless Armenia ceded Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijan.  Armenia would not bargain away the motherland, he stated, and there was now consideration of recalling the Protocols from Parliament.

Hate crimes against minorities were now rife in Syria and Iraq, he said, noting that just two days ago, on Armenian Independence Day, the Church of All Saint Martyrs in Deir-ez-Zor, Syria, which was dedicated to victims of the Armenian genocide, had been blown up by terrorists.  Tens of thousands of Armenians of Aleppo were imperilled.  His country had underlined on numerous occasions the need to defend minorities in Syria and northern Iraq, and he was encouraged by the unified stance of the international community in that regard.

Returning to the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh, he said that it was now more than 20 years since Azerbaijan, through a “maximalist stance” and bellicose statements, had obstructed the efforts of the international community to bring about a just and peaceful settlement.  Azerbaijan was exploiting the four Security Council resolutions on the issue to justify their obstruction, even though that country had failed to implement their fundamental provisions and was gravely violating humanitarian norms by its cruel treatment of Armenian civilian prisoners.

He maintained that the recent vote held in Scotland had once again proved that referendums were increasingly seen as a legal model for the settlement of ethnic conflicts.  A referendum was the core element of the proposal on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict put forward by the Co-Chairs of the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the only specialized structure mandated by the international community to deal with the conflict.  He criticized attempts to move the issue to other platforms and depict it as a territorial dispute or a matter of religious solidarity.

ABDEL FATTAH AL SISI, President of Egypt, said Egyptians had made history in the past two years, first revolting against corruption and despotism to claim their right to freedom, dignity and social justice, and then refusing to succumb to the tyranny of a faction that in the name of religion had put its narrow interests before those of the people, seeking to undermine the democratic process and national institutions.  Egypt had warned about the aims of extremist groups that were transforming the Jewish, Christian and Muslim values of justice, compassion and mercy into grim sectarianism and destructive civil and regional wars.  Since his election as President, Mr. Al Sisi said he had sought to build a civil democratic State by adhering to a road map for the future agreed upon by national power, which would be completed with the holding of parliamentary elections.

“Our aim is to build a ‘New Egypt’ […] a State that respects the rights and freedoms, honours its duties, and ensures the co-existence of its citizens without exclusion or discrimination,” he said.  That State should also respect and enforce the rule of law, guarantee freedom of speech and religion, and work towards growth, prosperity and a promising future for all Egyptians.  To attain that, the Government began implementing an ambitious programme to spur development and build the foundation for a free market, investor-friendly economy by 2030.  The New Suez Canal Project was proof of the New Egypt’s resolve to forge a better future for its children.  He invited everyone to participate in the conference on national and regional economic development in Egypt next February.

Such steps reflected the social contract, in Egypt’s new Constitution, to build a State with strong institutions, governed by the rule of law and the principle of separation of powers, and one not held back by terrorism, he said.  Egypt had suffered from the scourge of terrorism since the 1920s.  It was vital not to allow the handful of extremists committing atrocities in the name of religion to abuse Islam and offend the 1.5 billion Muslims that cherished its noble values.  Everyone must intensify cooperation and coordination to end support for such terrorist organizations.  The crises facing the region from terrorism could be resolved by applying the principles of equality for all citizens and respect for the rule of law, and by decisively confronting extremist forces.

Egypt had partnered with Libya’s neighbours on an initiative to end terrorism and bloodshed in Libya, help strengthen elected Libyan institutions and preserve territorial integrity, he said.  To succeed, the smuggling of arms into Libya must stop.  Turning to Syria, he said it was possible to put into place a political framework that fulfilled the Syrian peoples’ aspirations without compromising with terrorists or replicating the situation against which they initially rebelled.  He stressed Egypt’s support towards that end.  On Iraq, he said the formation of a new Government was a “significant development” that restored hope for achieving stability, regaining areas currently under “ISIS’” control, maintaining Iraq’s territorial integrity, and ending the bloodshed.

The Palestinian issue remained a top priority for Egypt, he said.  The Palestinians’ aspiration to establish an independent State with East Jerusalem as its capital, based on the peace process, was not to be negotiated, as that would erode the basis for comprehensive peace in the region.  National security in other Arab nations was an integral part of Egypt’s own national security.  His country’s vision of international relations was founded on respect for international law and mutual respect.  Egypt’s aspirations to become a non-permanent Security Council member during the 2016-2017 period stemmed from its desire to achieve the Organization’s aims and protect the interests of developing countries, particularly in Africa.  He invited Member States to support its candidacy.

ABDULLAH II IBN AL HUSSEIN, King of Jordan, stressed that the world’s challenges had grown significantly since the last general debate.  The security of every nation would be shaped by the fate of his country’s region, the Middle East.  The global community must act together to tackle the issues facing that part of the world and provide opportunities for dialogue and reconciliation.

He also emphasized the importance of respect among different religions, reiterating that the teachings of Islam prohibited violence against Christians and other religious groups.  Jordan was at the forefront of interfaith dialogue and had spearheaded a number of such initiatives.  Because of the abhorrent crimes against religious groups recently seen in Syria and Iraq, Jordan would propose a draft resolution that would make such acts a crime against humanity.

Pointing once again to the situation in Syria and Iraq, he said that the international community should work towards a “consensus-driven political solution” that addressed the myriad issues that had arisen as a result of the crisis, including displacement.  Refugee flows had taken a heavy toll on his country, which had sheltered nearly 1.4 million Syrians.  The burden on Jordanians, infrastructure and already-limited resources had become overwhelming.

Shifting to the topic of Palestinian rights and statehood, he said that the future of the region could not be addressed without addressing that pivotal issue.  He expressed concern at the “dangerous halt in the progress towards peace”, and called for a mobilization in international efforts to rebuild Gaza and marshal a united, global response to achieve “once-and-for-all a lasting settlement”.  That, he asserted, would create the foundation necessary to re-launch final status negotiations on the basis of the Arab Peace Initiative.  He underscored that the path to a comprehensive peace settlement must involve a two-State solution as that would offer security and normal relations for Israel with its neighbours as well as a viable, sovereign State for the Palestinians along the 1967 lines.

FRANÇOIS HOLLANDE, President of France, said he was addressing the General Assembly with a high level of emotion, following the assassination of his compatriot, Hervé Gourdel, by a group linked to ISIL in Algeria today.  He condemned the execution, and urged the international community to fight against terrorism under the flag of values of human dignity and freedom.  France was fully committed to this fight.  Today, ISIL was not just a threat to the region, but to the entire world.  The group was provoking attacks, organizing abductions, and recruiting and training fighters from all over the world to reproduce the threat of terrorism.  In response, France was bringing in aerial support to weaken ISIL’s power.

He said there could be no sustainable solution without resolving the Syrian crisis.  To that end, France supported the democratic Syrian opposition as the only legitimate representation of the Syrian people.  Today, France had experienced a tragedy, but it had a role to play and it would not renounce it.  The fight against terrorism would be pursued and accelerated with respect for the rule of law, State sovereignty, and United Nations values.

Turning to Ebola, he sympathized with affected African friends, and warned that they could not expect to contain the epidemic in affected countries without help.  France and the world had a responsibility to provide those countries with the necessary care, protection and economic assistance.  Without solidarity, all other countries would be affected, he added.

He also stressed that the world must address climate change, which was not only threatening to the current generation but also to the next one.  Climate change was a threat to security because more people were displaced by that phenomenon than by wars.  France had taken responsibility by deciding to organize a climate conference in 2015.  All must do everything possible in Paris to ensure that a binding global agreement was reached.

He reiterated that it was a sad moment today in France, but it was also a time to take responsibility, reduce inequalities, combat terrorism and fight climate change.  He was certain that those challenges could be dealt with, if the world was united.  “Together we can achieve this victory,” he concluded.

ENRIQUE PEÑA NIETO, President of Mexico, praised the United Nations for leading international efforts on a range of dangers facing humanity, from hunger and pandemics to climate change.  With all those new, border-transcending challenges, the world needed change at the United Nations, he said, calling for a more “effective, efficient, transparent and representative” Organization.  Security Council reform was of utmost importance, and Mexico believed it should be enlarged by increasing the number of non-permanent members, thus creating “long-term seats with the possibility of immediate re-election based on a more equitable geographic representation.  The permanent members should refrain from using their veto power in cases of grave violations of international humanitarian law, he said.

Arms trafficking inflicted serious damage to the world’s societies, he said, adding that for the Arms Trade Treaty to address that, it was imperative not only to sign the text, but to ratify it.  Next year, Mexico would host the first Conference of State Parties.  He then turned to the situation of young people and children, saying it was time to launch a “joint global action” against all forms of bullying.  Touching on the situation in his own country, he said that Mexico had managed to reach agreement among all political forces on the need for reforms, which had allowed improvements to education, modernization of the telecommunications sector, and a renewal of the judicial and accountability systems.  He attributed the country’s ability to achieve those changes to dialogue and consensus.

As Mexico had dared to transform itself, so could the United Nations, he said, noting that the Organization, at nearly 70 years old, needed to evolve in keeping with the rest of the world.  The talent and wisdom needed for that transformation were present — what was now needed was for Member States to listen, discuss, tolerate and yield.  Mexico supported United Nations peacekeeping and had decided to participate in the missions in order to provide humanitarian assistance to civilian populations.  The United Nations seventieth anniversary next year was an opportunity to drive change, he concluded, reiterating his country’s commitment to the Organization. 

SAULI NIINISTÖ, President of Finland, said that recent crises in the world had violated “the core values and rules upon which the United Nations is based”.  The situation in Ukraine had a deep impact on Europe’s security, but the matter should be of concern to the entire world, as upholding the rule-based global system was a precondition for peace and security, human rights and development.  “If we cease to protect this system, it will cease to protect us,” he warned.

He asserted that the Security Council had not upheld its responsibilities in Ukraine or Syria.  With that, he called for its reform of veto use.  At the same time, he praised the General Assembly for adopting an earlier resolution on Ukraine’s territorial integrity.  Still, more could have been done by that body to condemn the actions of the Russian Federation, which must take “active steps” to stabilize the situation in eastern Ukraine.

On Syria, he urged the world not to abandon the conflict-ridden State, which had witnessed half its population perish or flee to neighbouring countries.  The international community must tackle that challenge together and show the same resolve it had shown after the chemical attacks months ago.  He called on the Council to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court, a mechanism that “must be used when the national justice system is not able to deliver”.  

With so many conflicts unfolding, international cooperation was needed more than ever, he said.  The world shared important challenges, such as climate change, and with the post-2015 agenda nearing, it must aspire to a new kind of global commitment that met the needs of planet Earth; “all resources and means should be mobilized” to meet those pledges.  While public funding for sustainable development was important, particularly in areas affected by conflict, innovation, trade, technology and investments must play a stronger role.

SUSILO BAMBANG YUDHOYONO, President of Indonesia, said that in his country’s effort to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, he had learned one key lesson: the most important driver of change lay not only in good governance but in smart governance.  It involved innovative leadership and active public participation, and was needed to achieve desired results.  With smart governance, Indonesia had managed to increase its national income per capita by 400 per cent in just a decade. 

Noting that improved relations among major Powers had created ample space for new strategic and economic opportunities, he said global trade had reached $23 trillion, which was an almost six-fold growth since one year after the end of the cold war in 1990, with the fastest growth occurring from 2000 through 2013, at a rate that was one and a half times faster than that of the preceding two decades.  That coincided with the pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals.  The value of global investments had reached almost $1.5 trillion in 2013 for a near seven-fold growth since 1990.  That positive geopolitical development had allowed South-East Asia to develop stronger cooperation and develop the region’s architecture.

Today, however, relations among major Powers were worsening and those that were previously stable and cooperative were now marked with volatility and tension, he said.  The international community had an obligation to resolve major issues in order to end the suffering of the Palestinians in Gaza and the rest of the Occupied Territory, to deliver the still elusive two-State solution, to resolve the conflict in Ukraine and to find an effective and durable solution to the ongoing conflicts in Syria and Iraq.  It was not enough to simply call for peaceful co-existence; the twenty-first century required world Powers to “turn the trust deficit into a new strategic trust”, not just among themselves, but also among emerging Powers and all Member States.  With firm resolve, that was indeed possible, as seen by what had transpired in South-East Asia.

He recalled that in the second half of the 1960s, South-East Asian nations were poor, divided, insecure, threatened by a war raging in their neighbourhood and ignorant of each other.  However, the establishment of Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) had enabled countries in the region to form the habits of dialogue and consultation and learn to trust one another.  Today, those once-divided countries belonged to ASEAN and were all drivers of regional affairs.  They had peacefully resolved a number of sensitive inter-State and intra-State conflicts, while others were being addressed through dialogue and negotiation. 

The aspiration for peace and co-existence of Indonesia and the ASEAN region, he said, was “the antidote to the poison” of fundamentalist prejudice and intolerance, as practiced by a terrorist group in Iraq and Syria, which falsely styled itself as the Islamic State.  The ideology of ISIS not only betrayed the true teaching of Islam as a religion of peace, but also harmed the Islamic ummah throughout the world.  On a planet marked by turbulent transitions in the Middle East, Indonesia had shown that democracy, Islam, modernity and human rights went together.  He hoped that the pioneering spirit, which had allowed Indonesia to open a new chapter of non-violent relations with Timor-Leste and peacefully resolve its overlapping maritime borders with Viet Nam, the Philippines and Singapore, among others, would be the same pioneering spirit that could aid the international community in conquering poverty and social injustice, and in creating a culture of peace among all faiths.

CRISTINA FERNÁNDEZ, President of Argentina, said most of the problems facing the world today resulted from a lack of democratic multilateralism.  In that context, she welcomed the vote by the Assembly on resolution 68/304, to restructure the foreign debts of all countries.  That had long been before the Assembly, which had called for reform of the international financial system and the Security Council.  Argentina had previously experienced the kind of economic and financial crisis that had spread throughout the world in 2008, when, in 2001, it had been forced to default on its sovereign debt.  Contributing to that collapse were the creditors’ terms that had been forced upon the country.  As a result, there had not only been economic collapse, but a social and political implosion as well.  Argentina owed 162 per cent of its GDP.  Its creditors, having contributed to that, were obligated to shoulder some of the burden.

The country had been able to formulate agreements with 92.4 per cent of its creditors, enabling it to improve the condition of its people, she said.  Today the IMF recognized that the economic growth rate achieved by Argentina between 2004 and 2011 was the third largest in the world.  In fact, Argentina now had the best growth in Latin America, which had been possible because $193 billion in debt had been restructured.  Today, it carried one of the lowest debt loads in the world.

However, she added, there were “vulture funds” of individuals who would not participate in the restructuring, but instead sought recourse in the court systems.  Some reaped more than 1,600 per cent profit over a five-year period.  Those “vulture funds” amounted to economic terrorism, creating poverty, misery and hunger through the sin of speculation.  For that reason, she called for a convention on multilateralism.

Highlighting the attack on the Israeli Embassy, she said that Argentina had also experienced political terrorism.  The country had sought to bring the perpetrators to justice, including through a memorandum negotiated with Iran, enabling the accused Iranian citizens to make statements in Argentina’s courts.  Dialogue was essential, and in that context, she recognized the need for a two-State solution in the Middle East.  She called on the Assembly to recognize Palestine as a State and full Member of the Assembly, noting that Israel must also be secure within its borders.  “In a time of economic vultures and hawks of war, we need more doves of peace,” she said.

Turning to the Security Council, she said that as long as the votes of the five permanent members counted more than those of other countries, nothing would ever be resolved.  There would be a real beginning to a solution when the Assembly, where each member had one vote, became the sovereign body of the Organization.  As a non-permanent member of the Council, she had questions about who had armed the “bad guys”, some of whom were now starting to cooperate.  But one group had led to another, and now there was ISIS.  “Where does this come from?” she asked.  Some might be able to answer such questions, she said.  In closing, she expressed thanks to all who had supported resolution 68/304 in the face of pressure not to do so.

RECEP TAYYIP ERDOĞAN, President of Turkey, said the current session was being held on the 100th anniversary of the First World War, whose effects still deprived peoples of stability, peace and prosperity a century later.  A broad swath of nations, ranging from Iraq to Syria, Libya to Afghanistan and Ukraine, witnessed deep scars on the conscience of humanity.  Poor countries struggled with hunger, malnutrition, communicable diseases and lack of education, while rich ones enjoyed prosperity.  Climate change threatened the whole world, and because those issues concerned all of humanity, they were the purview of the United Nations.

He said that millions of children worldwide had lost their lives in the last year, and 17,000 of those killed had been in Syria.  Others had been severely injured.  This year, 490 children had been killed so far and 3,000 injured as “a direct target” in the Gaza Strip of Palestine.  Children playing on beaches, running in parks, taking refuge in mosques or schools, or curled against their mothers’ bosoms, were mercilessly killed before the eyes of the world.  However those objecting to murders in Iraq and Syria were subjected to certain unfair and groundless accusations, and immediately accused of supporting terrorism.  Those who stood by and remained unresponsive to the killing of children and women were openly participating in those crimes against humanity.

That double standard, he said, led to significant and serious mistrust, including towards the United Nations; it harmed a sense of justice and led millions of people to despair.  And that mistrust was one of the main sources of power for the growth of international terrorism.  Indifference to the killing of children was a lifeline for terrorism all around the world.  Problems in Iraq had caused major destruction for the Iraqi peoples and had recently spread beyond its borders.  Unfortunately, that had given terrorist organizations free reign in the region, which had a direct effect on countries there, particularly on Turkey.  Hopefully, a new Government in Iraq would mean a fresh start, he said, regretting that the Syrian crisis was now spilling over the borders of Iraq as well.

Achieving a two-State solution for Palestine was of utmost importance, he said, stressing that it was no longer time to speak to the issue only, but to act.  Thousands of people were dying from inaction, he declared, urging the United Nations to address those problems without further delay. 

The “world was more than five”, he said, adding that the situation in the Security Council was not acceptable, given that decisions taken at the United Nations could be dependent on a single country.  The Organization had been unable to find effective solutions regarding the conflicts in Palestine, Syria and elsewhere, and could have prevented so many deaths.  He did not understand how the killing of 2,000 civilians by chemical weapons was a crime while the killing of 200,000 by conventional weapons was not.  All killings were crimes regardless of weapons used.  The United Nations had done nothing but watch events unspool in Egypt, and the person committing a coup was legitimized.  If that was a legitimate path to power, why did the United Nations exist at all?

He strongly condemned coupling terrorism with Islam, which represented peace, adding that those labelling their inhuman actions as Islamic disrespected Islam and all of humanity.  Turkey was approaching issues in its region on moral grounds, and not on the basis of religion or race, he said, noting that 1.5 million people had come to Turkey and were receiving food and medicine.  Unfortunately, however, the rest of the world was not supplying much support.  So far, Turkey had spent more than $4.5 billion on Syrian refugees; he wondered why only 130,000 were being served by European countries.  The Syrian crisis was a global one to which it was impossible to remain indifferent.  Turkey had always retained its objectivity regarding terrorism, sectarian conflicts and rights protection.  It fought terrorism itself.  It opposed anti-Semitism and all forms of racism, which were crimes against humanity.  So too was Islamophobia.  Turkey would fight for democracy and prosperity with heart and soul, he said, urging the world community’s support for its pursuit of a non-permanent seat on the Council. 

EVO MORALES AYMA, President of Bolivia, said that Mother Earth was injured by an inhumane and predatory capitalism, which turned human life and nature into merchandize.  There was an opportunity today to build a new and better world.  A shared commitment by all was needed to change the vision of development to one that was more holistic, with people living in harmony with the Earth, and in solidarity and peace.  The world had lost its respect for Mother Earth, which was a dangerous development.  Encouraged by capitalism, people had turned everything into a market, including genetic manipulation and destruction of human beings.  Economic growth did not, in itself, lead to social well-being; societies could not be exclusionary or governed by the grasping nature of the market.

He stressed the fundamental importance of recovering the control of natural resources in order to garner greater benefits for people and eliminate poverty.  It was vital to strike a balance between the rights of Mother Earth, the right to development, respect for the rights of indigenous peoples, social and economic rights, and the rights of the poor to emerge from poverty.  The human right to water was a fundamental priority, as in many regions the demand exceeded availability — a reality which would worsen as the years passed.  In 2050, 4 billion people would suffer from scarcity of water in the context of climate change.

With the national programme, My Water, Bolivia had reached the Millennium Development Goal on water, he said, declaring that human rights could not be privatized.  Water was life, and could not be the subject of profit or commerce.  To resolve major social inequalities, basic services, such as water, electricity, telecommunications, sanitation and basic health must be seen as human rights.  To eradicate poverty and hunger, the international community must fight the pitiless and inhumane forces of the market, and profoundly change the exclusionary structures of international financial institutions.  The world financial architecture must be reformed in order to eradicate financial colonialism.

He said that war fed the darkest interests, such as the geopolitical control of private commerce.  Humanity could overcome many of its problems, such as Ebola and HIV, if funds were diverted from war.  Bolivia condemned the genocidal actions of Israel against Palestine, he said, urging recognition of Palestine as a full Member of the United Nations.

Bolivia shared the belief that Syria’s future and destiny should be determined by Syrians themselves, and in that context, he condemned the United States’ interference in Iraq, which had triggered the current conflict there.  The war begun in 2003 had destabilized the entire region.  The argument that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction was the biggest lie of the imperialist era and had ultimately resulted in the creation of the “Islamic State” terrorist group.  He rejected those actions, adding that nothing justified fratricidal violence.  Wherever the United States intervened, it left misery, hate and death in its trail, but also left wealth in the hands of the arms and oil industries.  A culture of peace required the eradication of extremist fanaticism, as well as the warmongering promoted by the United States.

Waging war on war did not result in peace, he said, adding that every year, President Obama shared a discourse of arrogance and threats to the peoples of the world; that was also a discourse of extremist fanaticism.  The blockade against Cuba amounted to genocide, and must come to an end immediately.  Bolivia’s sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean must be settled through international law.  That would transform the century to one of peace, liberty and life.  There would be no peace, so long as arrogant empires harassed and killed the peoples and cultures of the world.  The empires of finance, markets and of the arms industry must give way to the wisdom of life, peace and harmony.

DANILO MEDINA SÁNCHEZ, President of the Dominican Republic, said that the crisis begun in the industrialized countries six years ago had spread throughout the world, placing the welfare State, which had produced some of the greatest progress in history, in jeopardy.  Social justice was being endangered in the countries of its origins, yet it was starting to thrive in emerging countries.

The Dominican Republic had set itself the goal of becoming a people-centred developed country, he said, spotlighting education as a priority in that process, and noting programmes were in place to ensure that all girls and boys had access.  Shortly, the country expected to be free of illiteracy.  The welfare State was creating improvements in health and in supporting small agricultural producers, and there was a renaissance of the Dominican countryside, enabling it to feed the country.  Poverty had been reduced by 6 per cent, and in rural areas by 9 per cent.

Turning to other parts of the world, he said that today’s numerous conflicts were the result of holding on to past grievances.  There would always be those who wanted to keep those alive, without any compunction about causing people harm.  There were others who looked to the future and a world they would like to create for their children.  In that regard, an historic agreement had been reached between the Dominican Republic and its neighbour on the island, Haiti. The two had a history of past conflicts, but “our history is extremely rich”, and there were positive aspects to be found when the search continued to find ways to improve people’s lives.  Together, they were discovering that old wounds did prevent advancing along that path.  In fact, taking those steps helped to close past wounds.

He urged the international community to support the new era between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, by helping their people receive the documents they needed to establish their countries of origin.  That was also fundamental to providing them with social services.  “Please help Haiti document its people, both in its own territory and in the Dominican Republic,” he said, urging all not to allow “a few technical deficiencies to be an obstacle” to such a hopeful time for the two countries.  In closing, he said the economy was not a prison, but could be a tool used to improve people’s lives.  Finally, he called on Member States to make education and health care for all a fundamental human right.

UHURU KENYATTA, President of Kenya, called for urgent, sustained attention to the devastating Ebola crisis in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.  Kenya stood in solidarity with those affected countries, and earlier this month, had given $1 million to the effort to bring the crisis under control; it stood ready to do more.  Last week, East African Health Ministers had met in Nairobi and agreed on steps to safeguard their populations and ensure the virus did not spread to the region.  The Government stood ready to resume Kenya Airways flights once appropriate measures were in place.  He welcomed creation of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), stressing that the Ebola crisis underlined the need to build strong States in the region that could withstand and respond to emergencies.  “We must commit to build strong, resilient and accountable States that can effectively respond to shocks, adversities and emergencies in the future,” he said.

Kenya had been at the forefront of driving the Assembly’s Open Working Group process to create the sustainable development goals, he went on, urging that the post-2015 development agenda address the cross-section of social, economic and environmental challenges, and be universal, comprehensive and responsive to all nations equally.  Kenya was at a critical moment; as it deepened democracy, it was thrust into the front line of a regional and global war against terror.  Without an effective buffer, Kenya and other countries would find it difficult to entrench democracy and the post-2015 development agenda.  He expressed particular concern over the perennially fragile state of affairs in the Greater Horn of Africa.  Kenya continued to sacrifice lives and resources to bring peace to neighbouring Somalia.  The international community must stay the course to consolidate peace, invest in stable institutions and promote democracy there.

Kenya and other countries of the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) had invested much to end the tragedy in South Sudan, but progress had been slow, he said.  “We cannot let this young nation down.  At this Assembly, I make a special plea for South Sudan, for no nation has, over the years, suffered as much neglect from the international community,” he said, also imploring the nations’ leaders to “demonstrate determined and enlightened leadership and to make peace without further delay”.  Africa’s outdated development model had run its course.  Future socioeconomic transformation would come from within the continent, aided by external ideas and resources.  For the post-2015 development agenda to be transformative, it must first embrace the primacy of developing countries.

This year, Kenya had presided over the Conference of State Parties of People Living with Disabilities, the Forum on Forests and had co-chaired the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, he noted.  The country’s transformation agenda was grounded on Vision 2030, which, building on the 2010 Constitution, aimed to make the governance system more democratic, inclusive and responsive.  The Government had launched financial initiatives and training programmes for women and youth, and advanced children’s rights and welfare through universal immunization coverage and promoting breastfeeding during the first six months of an infant’s life.  It had provided fortified food and insecticide mosquito nets, along with free maternal health care and child care in Government hospitals.  Additionally, the “Beyond Zero” campaign was bolstering management of chronic preventable diseases.

He said his country was on track to achieve the Millennium target for universal primary education, noting its implementation of a social protection cash transfer programme for orphans and vulnerable children, people with severe disabilities and the elderly, targeting 45,000 households.  To fight illicit wildlife trafficking, it had enacted laws and continued to work with other countries and organizations to enhance protection of fauna and flora.  Kenya also continued to work to achieve 10 per cent forest cover; it was well above global targets for renewable energy use and fully supported all steps agreed at the recent United Nations Environmental Assembly in Nairobi.  It was engaged in a range of activities to hasten East Africa’s integration, easing restrictions on cross-border trade.  It also continued to invest heavily to combat extremism and terrorism.

LUIS GUILLERMO SOLÍS RIVERA, President of Costa Rica, said that the whirlwinds of oppression and violence, anxiety, desperation and systematic violations of human rights affected many corners of the world.  The international community was witness to an upsurge in violence and armed confrontation, as well as an increase in despicable crimes and extremism, together with ever-increasing numbers of people displaced, humanitarian crises and deplorable acts that went unpunished.  Costa Ricans were not indifferent to the terror of armed conflicts, and less still to the suffering of the millions victimized by its most abject manifestations.  Conflicts that tormented the world often emerged from fragile States and their institutions.  Also present were poverty, corruption and impunity, as well as serious human rights violations.  No conflict erupted as without warning, as all showed clear signs of unrest.  In some cases, the threat was identified but no action was taken due to lack of consensus, such as in Syria.  Or, the danger was not acknowledged in time, such as in South Sudan.

He said that all States should resolve their international conflicts peacefully, in compliance with the United Nations Charter and in strict accordance with international laws and agreements.  Peace could not take root where there was impunity, and when war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity were committed, those responsible must be investigated and tried, ultimately by the International Criminal Court, when national justice proved insufficient.

Maintaining international peace and security also required strengthening the Security Council, he said, stressing his country’s objection to the use of the veto for obstructing measures that sought to avoid resolution of conflicts.  Costa Ricans were amazed at the way some permanent members of the Council cited support for sovereignty in blocking the Council’s intervention at a moment when it should have been acting to prevent rivers from turning red with blood — the blood of innocent victims.  Silence was not an option, he said, condemning the indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas and its use of human shields.  He also condemned Israel’s use of disproportionate force.  He demanded respect for the Gaza ceasefire along with negotiation of a permanent solution.

He repudiated the transfer of conventional weapons into existing conflict zones, he said, also deploring the use of explosive weapons in densely populated areas of Syria, Gaza and east Ukraine.  He called on States to urgently develop stricter rules and commitments to prohibit and restrict those weapons’ use.  He also condemned the use of cluster munitions, and rejected the development and possession of nuclear weapons.

Touching on other matters of concern, he said there could be no peace without sustainable development, or as long as there was poverty.  Further, the world now faced the most serious threat in the history of mankind — climate change — a threat to the very survival of the species.  He, thus, demanded robust actions by those countries that contributed the most to global warming.  In closing, he stressed that hope must prevail:  in times of fear, there should be assurance; in times of conflict, peace.  At times of rejection and prejudice from others, a kind and welcoming embrace between fellow human beings.  At times of death, life.

 

ELBEGDORJ TSAKHIA, President of Mongolia, said that ISIL posed an alarming threat to regional peace and security, and he called for action to resolve that issue in compliance with the United Nations Charter.  He also stressed that the situation in Ukraine should be resolved through political dialogue only, and not the use of force.

He noted Mongolia was currently chairing the Freedom Online Coalition, and expressed the country’s support for the decision of the United Nations Human Rights Council that Internet freedom was a basic human right.  As a staunch advocate of democracy and freedom, Mongolia would use the opportunity of chairing the Coalition to promote, both nationally and internationally, free and secure Internet for all.  Touching on other areas of interest to his country, he highlighted climate change as an urgent priority, and in the lead-up to “COP21” in Paris next year, called for bold action and strong political will to ensure that State pledges were translated into action.  He welcomed the outcome of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, but said it could have better reflected the special needs of landlocked developing countries, and he looked forward to the upcoming intergovernmental negotiations to redress that situation.

Regarding the recent Mongolia, China and Russian Federation summit, he said that the countries had agreed to expand their cooperation in the areas of transportation, infrastructure, development and reduction of trade barriers.  He also highlighted peace and stability in North-Eastern Asia as one of Mongolia’s national security priorities, expressing his view that the Korean peninsula must be nuclear weapon-free.  On organizational reform, he said that in a time of major geopolitical change, the United Nations system must reflect new economic and political realities.  The reform process, therefore, must be accelerated, including the “long-overdue” expansion of the Security Council’s permanent and non-permanent membership.  On that note, Mongolia had put forward its candidature for a non-permanent seat for the 2022 elections, and was seeking the support of fellow members.

GOODLUCK JONATHAN, President of Nigeria, stressed that the post-2015 agenda requires collective ownership and should meet the aspirations of developing countries.  Noting that his country was co-chair of the report on sustainable development by the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts, he said that Nigeria would strengthen governance and institutions to ensure the efficiency of resources and create an “enabling environment for rapid development”.

However, he said, the consequences of terrorism were “extremely agonizing”.  From Al Qaida in the Maghreb and Al Shaabab in Somalia, to Boko Haram in Nigeria and the newly emerging “Islamic State”, foreign fighters had remained a common feature.  The destructive ideology of those groups was a major challenge that must be collectively halted.  The current tools of peacekeeping operations needed to be reviewed, he said, recalling the activities of Boko Haram in Nigeria and its repeated assassinations, bombings and kidnappings, as well as the large-scale abduction of school girls in the north-east of the country.  He thanked all countries and organizations for their continued support and assured the Assembly that his country was working “assiduously” to free the girls.

Turning to Security Council reform, he stressed that today’s challenges could only be resolved by a Council whose working methods promoted transparency, inclusivity and common ownership through equitable representation of all regions.  That process should be fast-tracked and would require the collective resolve of all Member States to ensure that 2015 — the fiftieth anniversary of the last significant reform — would bring about decisive progress.

As the African continent battled conflicts and terrorism, the region had also been devastated by the outbreak of Ebola, he continued.  With the help of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other international partners, Nigeria had been able to control the disease’s spread.  The situation in Liberia and Sierra Leone, however, required collective global action.  Nigeria had donated $3.5 million and had provided training and capacity-building to support the three affected countries.  He urged the international community to avoid “indulging in isolationist and discriminatory tendencies” that would worsen an already critical situation.

Highlighting the role of the United Nations in finding solutions to all of those challenges, he reiterated his country’s commitment as a partner in working collectively to tackle new and emerging threats to global peace and security.

PAUL KAGAME, President of Rwanda, said the success of the Millennium Development Goals framework illustrated the ongoing strength of international cooperation.  If the public and private sectors worked together on climate change, the world could look forward to a future where countries did not have to choose between clean energy and economic growth.  Efforts to address crises in Africa and the Middle East had not been effective, he said, adding that two important goods had been consistently undervalued in that regard — physical security and national identity — which were vital to sustainable nation-building and peace.  Without them, sustainable gains in good governance suffered.  It took time to create change; there were no short-cuts.  The voices and concerns of all citizens must be included in the process of consensus-building, as structures that did not come from within would not take root.  Member States must heed those realities.

To manage diversity in societies, politics must be international in scope, he said, adding that negative experiences of nationalism had created doubt about patriotism and national identity.  Today, it was evident that national identities were too weak.  Regionalism and religions had become the dominant forces, tearing nations apart.  In Rwanda, the focus had been on building Government institutions that were held to account and on renewing the dignity of the nation.  As a result, Rwandans were the most optimistic people in the world, with faith in their Government and institutions.  It was up to the international community to not just manage conflicts, but to help prevent and end them.

JUAN ORLANDO HERNÁNDEZ ALVARADO, President of Honduras, said the nation’s “Everyone for a Better Life” plan was based on four pillars:  recovering peace; creating investment opportunities for very poor families; combating corruption; and promoting transparency.  Since taking office eight months ago, he had worked to instil peace and create more just conditions for all.  More investment in the country was needed to create better-paying jobs.  Honduras had reformed its Constitution to create employment and economic development zones known as “ZEDE”, with special legal, economic, administrative and political jurisdictions.  The zones could improve competitiveness and well-being.  They were governed by a common law system with international arbitration and judges, and offered a technical, non-political structure for companies and guaranteed transparency and political stability for investors.

He said the Government was setting up a logistical inter-oceanic corridor to move cargo between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in less than six hours, and hoped to capture at least 5 per cent of cargo traffic demand.  He, meanwhile, called for special attention to the growing number of unaccompanied children migrating to the United States due to violence, drug trafficking and their parents’ lack of economic opportunities at home.  Staunching those flows was a shared responsibility, he said, declaring that Honduras was merely a transit territory for a war created by drug-consuming countries in the North and drug-producing countries in the South.  The time had come to finally attack the root causes of the drug problem.  “We must create a multinational force capable of successfully confronting this transnational phenomenon,” he said.

There was much talk of families displaced by war, violence and extreme radicalism in other regions, but little mention of the situation faced by thousands of families in the northern part of Central America, he said.  “What is the difference between people displaced by violence in other regions and those displaced by violence generated by drug traffickers and transnational crime?”, he asked.  The region could not continue to ignore that human drama affecting thousands of Central Americans, particularly child migrants who were victims of violence, rape, and human and organ trafficking.

Noting that many children had died in the desert, he said “these children deserved to be treated with dignity and respect; they are innocent victims”.  Yesterday, he had handed the Secretary-General the “Alliance for Prosperity” plan, which provided a blueprint for support and opportunities for Central Americans everywhere.  Generating work opportunities for the parents of child migrants was vital.  Elaborating on the “Everyone for a Better Life” programme, he said it was designed to bring potable water, basic sanitation, housing and children’s school fees and health care to 835,000 Honduran households in need.  To address climate change, energy-efficient stoves had replaced thousands of wood-burning stoves in Honduras.  The latter appliances caused 37,000 deaths in the country annually, he said, adding that each energy-efficient stove saved 15 mid-sized trees each year.

FILIP VUJANOVIĆ, President of Montenegro, said that he was committed to an effective multilateral system resting on a strong United Nations based on an integrated functional system that enabled respect for human rights, promotion of democracy, and the rule of law, and was able to devise and implement global responses to global challenges.  In that regard, he expressed support for the reform process known as “System-wide Coherence” and the integrated programme of action called “Delivering as One”. He noted that the United Nations Eco building had opened in the capital of Montenegro in March, hosting all the Organization’s specialized agencies, and offering them optimum conditions to deliver as one.

As a member of the Human Rights Council, he expressed support for the integration of a human rights dimension in all the Organization’s work, and hoped to strengthen the Council’s role in response to human rights violations.  The key priority was to promote the rights of vulnerable groups.  Further, noting that peace and stability were preconditions for development, he expressed support for global disarmament efforts, and noted that Montenegro this year had become the forty-fourth country to have ratified the Arms Trade Treaty.

He said that open and frozen conflicts, from Ukraine through the Middle East and Africa, threatened global stability and caused humanitarian disasters and massive human rights violations.  He advocated for an urgent end to violence and greater reliance on political dialogue that led to solutions in line with international law, the Charter and relevant resolutions.  He also called for  greater use of preventive measures under the Charter’s Chapter VI, and reaffirmed Montenegro’s commitment to the responsibility to protect. He also underscored the importance of the rule of law and protection of civilians in peacekeeping missions.  The post-2015 development agenda must be based on respect for those rights to ensure that, in development processes, no one was neglected.  Poverty eradication and sustainable prosperity for the benefit of all people and the planet must be the overarching objective in the design of the next agenda.

JACOB ZUMA, President of South Africa, welcomed the theme of this year’s general debate “Delivering on and Implementing the Post-2015 Development Agenda’. Africa had made significant progress since it had implemented the Millennium Development Goals 14 years ago, and in that period, it had seized the opportunity to adopt the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the continent’s “socio-development blueprint”.  Together with NEPAD and other such development programmes, the African Union’s vision for 2063 will be the cornerstone and foundation of Africa’s future development agenda.

South Africa had made significant progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, he said, noting that the number of people earning less than a dollar a day had been halved, as had as those experiencing hunger.  His country had also attained Goal 2 — primary education for all — and was on its way to achieving Goal 3 — promoting and empowering women.  Progress had been achieved through the expansion of health infrastructure and improved access to health services for all South Africans.  Despite that, reports continued to show that the continent was lagging behind.  For that reason, the post-2015 agenda must carry forward the “unfinished business of the [Millennium Development Goals]”.  He called on developing countries to contribute 0.7 per cent of their gross national income towards ODA.

Putting aside everything that the United Nations had achieved in the past six decades, he said if we do not deal with the scourge of poverty, underdevelopment and diseases, “the poor of the world will consider everything to have been a failure”.  The outbreak of Ebola in West Africa was a clear example of the persistent challenges for developing countries.  The outbreak had exposed constraints in capacity, infrastructure and other limited resources in Africa.  Still, he praised the leadership of Secretary-General in deploying a mission to coordinate efforts to combat the virus and affirmed that South Africa stood ready to provide resources at its disposal to assist the affected countries.  More, however, were should be deployed to ensure the containment of the virus.

He voiced South Africa’s support for the quest for freedom and self-determination, including by the peoples of Palestine and Western Sahara, who continued to experience occupation in different forms.  Further, his country supported Cuba’s struggle for economic liberation because of its sacrifice for African freedom.  The Israeli-Palestine question was one of the oldest items on the United Nations agenda, and yet it remained elusive.  As there could be no military solution, the international community must remain committed to a two-State solution based on the 1967 borders and a peaceful coexistence with Israel.

DIDIER BURKHALTER, President of Switzerland, echoed the words of Swiss youth activist Damian Vogt and girls’ education crusader Malala Yusufzai as he urged the international community to meet the aspirations of today’s youth.  Like millions of other young people around the globe, they wanted exactly the same things:  peace, human dignity, freedom and equality, and education, and an opportunity to work, he said.  The United Nations must do everything in its power to give them a world where humanity was synonymous with security, freedom and prosperity.  International security and United Nations reform was two priority areas and would enable the Organization to stay true to its roots as “an assembly of States at the service of the people borne out of the ruins of conflict”.  Today’s security challenges were immense.  Around the world, the rule of law and principles of humanitarian law had been flouted.  Particularly worrisome were the developments in the Middle East, most notably the brutal acts of the “Islamic State” in Syria and Iraq.

It was for that reason, he said, that nations must be united in the “supremacy of law over force”. When serious violations occurred, investigations must be carried out.  Along with 60 other States, Switzerland had requested that the Security Council refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court.  At the same time, the root causes of extremism must be addressed.  Switzerland had established the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund to provide support for projects that would strengthen education and civic engagement, and build capacity at the community level to provide alternatives to extremism.

He said the situation in Ukraine “weakens the security of the entire continent”.  Violations of international law in Crimea demanded a firm response by the international community, but one that was balanced and left room for dialogue and cooperation.  To simply isolate Russia from the rest of Europe would not solve any problems.  Stability could only be restored by working with the country, not against it.  His country, in its capacity as Chair of OSCE, fully supported the contact group for Ukraine and Russia, and would take steps to increase funding for a civil monitoring mission in cooperation with the United Nations.  Nations could make the greatest contribution to global security through conflict prevention, he said.

The secret to stability and the heart of Switzerland’s history lay in a willingness to share power, engage in direct dialogue with minorities and distribute authority between central and local government.  There must be an “emphasis on consultation rather than confrontation”.  To manage global tensions, it was essential to strengthen the mediation capacities of both the United Nations and of regional security organizations.  Wars could grow out of missed opportunities for dialogue, he warned.  In the coming year, Switzerland would augment its contribution to global development and humanitarian cooperation through roughly 0.5 per cent of its national income.

In closing, he said the post-2015 process was a unique opportunity to transform the world’s challenges into opportunities, however, certain crises could not await the outcome of discussions.  Thus, Switzerland had decided to increase its humanitarian commitment in the fight against Ebola.  Already, Swiss-based research centres, some of the best in the world, were working with WHO in the clinical testing of vaccines.

IDRISS DEBY ITNO, President of Chad, said that development through attempts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals had not produced the expected results from many States.  Among the main causes for that shortfall included weakness of solidarity in financing those goals and not adapting them to the concerns and realities of Africa.  Setbacks were also due to the many global crises that arose, such as the financial, food, environmental and security crises.

Unfortunately, on the eve of the important post-2015 meeting, the same security risks remained, he said.  Armed conflicts and terrorism were becoming constant threats in many areas in Africa, aggravated by migration that deprived Africa of its strong working people.  It was necessary then to join efforts to respond to those challenges which were dangerously compromising the future of the continent.

African countries needed to take on their own security by implementing laws that ensured security at the national, regional and continental levels, he continued.  The countries of the Sahel, namely Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad, were mobilized through the Sahel “G5” Group to build a strong system of good governance, security and peace.  The security of one country or region was linked to the development of its neighbours, and thus, of the entire continent.

There was a regional and continental will to respond to terrorism, which was progressively gaining ground in Africa, he said, calling on the countries of the Lake Chad mission to bring the joint multinational force into action to combat Boko Haram.  His country continued to contribute to peace and reconciliation in Africa, and among others, welcomed the holding of the Brazzaville Forum on reconciliation and inclusive dialogue between central African brothers.

Chad would continue to support the processes of dialogue and reconciliation throughout Africa, he said.  Regarding the new Libya, which had barely begun to exist after the fall of Qadhafi’s regime, the violence had doubled in intensity and populations lived in constant fear.  However, Libyans must resolutely commit to a political resolution process, which was the only proper path to ensure peace, unity and territorial integrity for Libya.  Chad, as well as Nigeria, Sudan and the Central African Republic, had welcomed hundreds of thousands of refugees who had fled armed conflicts or terrorist threats.  There were more than 500,000 refugees from neighbouring countries in Chad, including many repatriated Chadians and displaced Chadians.

Regarding the Ebola virus, he said the international community must act quickly, as the disease knew no borders.  He went on to reiterate that peace, stability and development were intrinsically linked.  However, those universal principles were not often respected, especially by the Powers of the world.  Such was the case with the International Criminal Court, which seemed to practise double standards and only pursued the weak:  80 per cent of those pursued were Africans.

He concluded, underscoring that Chad would continue to work to consolidate the rule of law and good governance through reform of its institutions, creating jobs for youth, and combating poverty and food insecurity.

TOOMAS HENDRIK ILVES, President of Estonia, reminded the Assembly that it had collectively agreed, in the Charter, and other international agreements, to respect territorial integrity and to recognize the freedom of States to choose their own security arrangements.  By annexing Crimea and invading eastern Ukraine, one of the signatories had violated those agreements.  If changing State borders by force would become the accepted norm, the whole world would be threatened.  Such developments must be firmly condemned.

The paralysis of the Security Council, while international justice was being manipulated and multiple crises were escalating, demonstrated that it must be reformed, he said.  Its work methods must be revised, with special attention to openness, accountability and transparency.  No permanent member of the Council should abuse the veto to circumvent the principles of the Charter.

Pointing out the universality and inviolability of human rights, he said there could be no guarantee of peace, justice, stability or security unless the basic rights of all human beings were respected and protected in every country.  Emphasizing the need for free speech, including online, he said that the internet was a driver of economic growth and a key development tool.  Most of the next billion Internet users would be from developing countries.  The post-2015 development agenda should recognize the importance of new technologies and e-services as a contribution to the security and prosperity of the world.  However, cyber security was essential both to protecting rights and to economic prosperity.

Addressing a series of related challenges, he noted that Ebola had become an international public health emergency, that climate change was becoming an existential threat to some countries and that those and the risks of violence, insecurity, financial and economic collapse, lack of resources and natural disasters were intertwined and needed to be addressed in an integrated way.  Peace and sustainable development required respect for human rights, which presumed the rule of law at the national and international level.  In that regard, he said that Estonia had developed an e-governance system that it had been sharing with all interested parties.

He recalled that long discredited ideas from 1938, of co-ethnics abroad being used as justification to annex territory, had returned.  “We cannot allow anyone ever again to divide countries into their “spheres of influence”. “The community of nations is only secure when its smallest members can feel secure.  […]  A way must be found to re-enforce and revalidate the agreements that we all have signed,” he stated

TEODORO OBIANG NGUEMA MBASOGO, President of Equatorial Guinea, said that the General Assembly bore the heavy responsibility of finding solutions to the problems of poverty, hunger, violence, piracy and terrorist activity, as well as Ebola, which was now laying waste to some countries in Africa.  Because of that disease’s deadly effects, his Government had announced a donation of $2 million to the WHO to finance programmes to combat it.

However, the United Nations would not be able to find solutions to those difficult problems unless the role of the General Assembly was strengthened and revitalized, he said.  That role had recently become routine.  Furthermore, the United Nations would not be able to find lasting solutions if the Security Council could not be governed by rules that respected international justice.  The proliferation interventions that did not respect the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of States was of great concern.  Those interventions interrupted the process of democracy in those affected countries, further fuelling divisions and socio-political instability.  It was important to clearly distinguish between supporting a democratic process and interference through pressures, which led to intolerance, exclusions and hatred among citizens.

Democracy was not an imported product, he said, and could not be designed in the offices of other countries.  Democracy was formed through the application of positive values characterizing a society, and only the people were able to define the model that best suited them.  Equatorial Guinea was being made into a modern democratic State, in which politics were now at their peak.  The transfer of power was guaranteed through equal rights for all political options, the administration of public affairs was carried out with transparency, and human rights were monitored by reliable institutions.

His Government had taken economic initiatives to develop its natural resources, and aimed to place itself as an economically emerging country by 2020, he said.  He thanked the United States, China, Cuba, France, Brazil, the Russian Federation and Morocco for their assistance.  Wishing the sixty-ninth session every success, he voiced hope to see the United Nations recover its leading role in delivering peace, security and global development.

MAHINDA RAJAPAKSA, President of Sri Lanka, noting progress made towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals, said that multiple challenges still remained.  Pointing out that reducing inequality within and among countries was one of the most transformative goals proposed by the Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, he expressed hope that that would enhance the voice and representation of developing countries in decision-making.  The post-2015 agenda must focus on implementation, ensuring that the failure of the developed countries to fulfil Millennium Goal 8 for a global partnership would not be repeated.

Countries must be able to set their own domestic priorities, he said, backed by strengthened partnerships that would allow countries of the South to access financial and technological resources essential to capacity-building.  Structural obstacles and political barriers, such as unfair trade practices and investment rules, must be addressed to create a supportive international economic environment, enhanced investment flows and an open multilateral trading regime.

The United Nations role in advancing international peace, security and prosperity was crucial to the contemporary world, he said, stressing the need for consistent standards to gain the confidence of the entire international community.  Post-conflict Sri Lanka had fallen victim to the ill-conceived agendas of some in the Human Rights Council, who disregarded progress made by his country, in contrast to their response to disturbing humanitarian emergencies elsewhere.  The Organization’s systems and mechanisms must be de-politicized, he said, urging concrete results on Security Council reform in 2015.

Noting with distress the increasing violence in the Middle East, he expressed support for an independent, viable State of Palestine.  He also pointed out the need for solidarity between Asia and Africa, stating that Sri Lanka was reaching out to countries in Africa to exchange knowledge and expertise.  He urged the international community to support the eradication of deadly diseases in the continent.  Concerning terrorism, he affirmed his support for all multilateral efforts to counter it, and looked to the early finalization and adoption of the United Nations comprehensive convention on international terrorism.

Despite the effects of terrorism, he noted that Sri Lanka had achieved most of the Millennium Development Goals and was ranked ahead of all South Asian countries in the 2013 Human Development Index.  The National Development Policy was rural-centric and had resulted in 7.8 per cent growth in GDP and per capita income of $3,280 in 2013.  The country’s “IT” literacy had also grown steadily.  Large-scale post-conflict reconstruction was under way with rehabilitation and resettlement initiatives implemented in the North.  Importantly, elections had been held to the Northern Provincial Council after a lapse of 28 years, upholding the democratic tradition in Sri Lanka, which had been protected since independence.

NICOLÁS MADURO MOROS, President of Venezuela, thanking the United Nations for the tributes paid to the late president of his country, Hugo Chávez, noted that the Charter was really one of the most beautiful poems that the world could ever read, but it had become an instrument that was unfortunately set aside, overlooked and consistently flouted.

He stressed that the United Nations was an historic experiment and that only with its establishment had humanity begin to see the light of the future at the end of a long tunnel of wars, battles and global conflicts.  Given the importance of having such an institution, the international community must stress the need for an in-depth transformation.  It was necessary to revamp the leadership of the Security Council.  The Organization now had to deal with a multi-polar world with emerging countries and regions, each with their own faults.  There was also a need to adapt and submit to the broader sovereignty of the peoples of the world who wished to be heard, and to strengthen the strength and clout of the Secretary-General so that he could find solutions to the conflicts of the world.

Observing the emergence of a new regionalism, he pointed to the Bolivarian Alliance, which was observing its tenth anniversary.  Petrocaribe, the oil alliance, supported that southern regionalism and was now starting to form ties with the rest of the world.  There was optimism for the new regionalism, and new forms were arising towards establishing a new road map for rethinking and overhauling the United Nations.  That momentum must not fall through the cracks.  A common road map for humanity was needed if the international community wished to tackle the important issues that it faced.  He asked when President Obama would take the opportunity to go down in history by ending the embargo in Cuba.

In addition, the General Assembly needed to draft a document that would become a mandatory text for the United Nations to defend poor countries against the “vulture funds” that sought to plunder those countries’ economies and impose detrimental economic systems.  He expressed solidarity with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) countries, and Argentina in particular.

He also stressed the need for a decolonization plan for Puerto Rico, which was part of the Caribbean community and should be a part of CELAC.  Oscar Lopez, whose only offense was to defend Puerto Rico, had been in a United States prison for almost 35 years and had been tortured.  Calling for Mr. Lopez’s immediate release, he compared him to Nelson Mandela.

Venezuela had the largest oil reserves in the hemisphere, he went on to say.  For the first time in 90 years, the country had fully recovered its own oil resources for the basis of its own development, after facing the persecution of imperialist forces.  The imperialist Powers could not succeed with Hugo Chávez, and they would not succeed with him.

The loss of human lives should pain the whole world, he said.  Because bombs killed the innocents, there was no other way to overthrow the terrorist networks of the world, but to invite the Governments of the region to come up with a comprehensive strategy that could be supported by the Security Council.  Anything else was “crazy”, he said.  Current methods, such as was done in Libya, were a “crazy race towards more terrorism and more violence”.

DAVID CAMERON, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, took note of the extraordinary “tests of our values and our resolve”, in Ukraine, in the Middle East and in dealing with the Ebola outbreak, but primarily, the threat from ISIL.  That problem was not restricted to just one region, but affected all and must be tackled together.  Past mistakes were no excuse for indifference or inaction, he said, recognizing that not a single person in the Hall would view the challenge without reference to the past, whether in Iraq or Afghanistan.  Lessons must be learned from the past, especially from what had happened in Iraq 10 years ago, but the right lessons must be learned, namely to act, but to act differently.

Defeating Islamist extremism, he continued, required a comprehensive plan.  The problem had nothing to do with Islam, which was a peaceful religion that inspired countless acts of generosity, he said.  To defeat the extremist ideology, however, all its forms, including incitement to hatred and intolerance, must be addressed.  Muslims and their Governments worldwide must reclaim their religion, and young people needed programmes that would channel them away from poisonous dialogues.  To that end, he called for a new Special Representative on extremism at the United Nations.  The world community should also be intelligent, supporting accountable Governments and showing young people other ways of reaching their aspirations.  He called for the widest-possible coalition of countries in the region and around the world, including Iran, to be involved in that global effort to defeat extremism.  “And we should be uncompromising — using all the means at our disposal, including military force, to hunt down these extremists.”

His delegation, he said, had tabled a resolution in the Security Council to disrupt financial flows to ISIL, to sanction those seeking to recruit to ISIL and to encourage countries to do everything possible to prevent foreign fighters from joining the extremist cause.  Regarding the military, he said he did not think the threat would be best solved by Western ground troops directly trying to pacify or reconstruct Middle Eastern or African countries.  However, the military could support humanitarian efforts.  He urged that more be done to build the capability of legitimate authorities fighting extremists, whether by training equipping and advising, as well as providing technology and other assets necessary for success.  “We are facing an evil against which the whole world must unite,” he said.

HELLE THORNING-SCHMIDT, Prime Minister of Denmark, condemned the situation unfolding in Syria and Iraq and the heinous acts of ISIL, including the lack of respect for international borders and the persecution of people based on their religious beliefs.  That contravenes the laws and norms upon which our international system and laws are built.  Strong global action was needed to manage today’s conflicts, yet there were no simple solutions, she said. As the world changed, new ways must be found to adapt, for which actions must be united.  The United Nations’ strength rested in a unified international community, and all must fulfil their Charter-based obligations.

She identified three issues that her country had deemed urgent for the United Nations to address:  developing stronger international cooperation on peace and security; reaching a climate change agreement at the upcoming summit in Paris; and reaching global consensus on the post-2015 development agenda.  In the area of international security, confronting ISIL should be a top priority, she said, condemning ISIL’s violence and extremist ideology.  Denmark had supported the Iraqis and the victims of its atrocities, and the international community in the effort to defeat that terror group.  The root causes of the crises must be confronted.  Bringing an end to the violence in the region required a sustained contribution from all, she urged.

The global response to the chemical weapons threat in Syria last year had highlighted the potential of a united international community, she said, adding that a unified response was also required to deal with the Ebola crisis.  Failing to tackle that would not only result in a global health crisis, but would pose a major threat to international peace and security.  There was a collective responsibility to control the outbreak.  For its part, Denmark had contributed significant funds to combat the crisis and would continue to provide material support.  Included in that would be maritime capacity, she announced.

On the subject of climate change, she stressed the importance of reaching a binding agreement at the Paris conference later this year that would reduce CO2 emissions.  She had been to Greenland with the Secretary-General and seen the visible effects of climate change in the Arctic.  However, climate change would not just have regional impact, but would “affect every one of us on this planet”.  This year, Denmark would commit $100 million on that front, however Governments could not act alone.  Partnerships, including those with the private sector, were needed to foster green solutions.  The post-2015 agenda was also of critical importance in the effort could “wipe poverty off the face of the earth”.  That was not based on wishful thinking, but was within our reach, she said.  The new set of development goals must address a broad range of metrics.  Particularly critical to developing countries were women’s empowerment, gender equality and reproductive and other rights of women and girls.

ARSENIY YATSENYUK, Prime Minister of Ukraine, stating that peace and stability did not exist in the world today, said that his country knew what terrorism was; not in words, but in practice.  The conflict in Ukraine was not domestic.  Ukraine had differences as every country did and it was ready to tackle its differences.  But, the origin of the conflict was an invasion by the Russian Federation.  “A ‘P5’ member violated the United Nations Charter.  That was “absolutely and entirely unacceptable”, he said.

Twenty years ago, he went on to say, Ukraine had abandoned its nuclear arsenal, the third largest in the world at the time.  In return, it was guaranteed territorial integrity and sovereignty.  The Russian Federation signed the memorandum to that effect; yet, it’d broken that promise.  “We are committed to our nuclear non-proliferation programme, but we need guarantees of territorial integrity, security and independence,” he said.

Pointing to the Russian Federation’s annexation of Crimea a few months ago, he commended Member States that supported the United Nations resolution on Ukraine’s territorial integrity and condemned the Russian Federation’s actions.  Today, Russian troops were deployed in eastern Ukraine and that Government had violated several multilateral and bilateral agreements.  He urged the Russian Federation to pull out its forces and to start real talks.  “We are the country that needs peace.  It’s difficult to hammer out any kind of peace deal at the barrel of a gun made in Russia,” he said.

He mourned the victims of the Malaysian Airliner downed a few months ago, and urged everyone to help Ukraine bring to justice those responsible for “this despicable crime against humanity”.  Every day, despite the ceasefire, Ukraine was losing soldiers and civilians.  His country needed peace.  The military option was not the best option, he said, calling for a comprehensive diplomatic and political solution.  Sanctions were the way to start real talks and hammer out a peace deal.  “We have no trust in words.  We trust only deeds and actions,” he said.

He reiterated Ukraine’s commitment to restore law and order and urged the Russian Federation to stick to its international obligations.  The Russian Federation had to execute all 12 points of the Memorandum of Understanding.  He asked Member States not to lift sanctions until the Russian Federation fully withdrew from eastern Ukraine, including Crimea.  “Mr. Putin, you can win the fight against the troops.  But, you will never win the fight against the nation, the united Ukrainian nation.  Help us God,” he said.

RASHID MEREDOV, Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan, reiterated his country’s support for United Nations peacekeeping and stressed the need to strengthen regional interaction mechanisms.  In Central Asia, such mechanisms should ensure favourable conditions for maintaining lasting peace and stability, and combating terrorism, organized crime and drug trafficking.  He proposed holding a forum on security and cooperation in Central Asia under United Nations’ auspices in the Turkmen capital next year.  He called for greater interaction between the Turkmenistan-based United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy in Central Asia and OSCE, European Union and other international organizations.

It was vital to support reconciliation in Afghanistan, which was essential for regional peace and security, he said.  Turkmenistan had hosted broad-based dialogue among Afghanistan’s various political parties, under United Nations’ auspices, as well as helped Afghanistan implement major transport and energy projects.  Construction of a gas pipeline running through Turkmenistan, Pakistan and India was in the final stages, he reported, adding that, last year, construction began on a railway between Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan.

Steps were under way to implement the treaty to set up a nuclear-free zone in Central Asia, he noted, adding that his country stood ready to engage in constructive cooperation with the United Nations on disarmament.  In that vein, he suggested the creation of a subregional disarmament centre in Central Asia.  Stressing the importance of reliable and stable energy in the region, and its role in development, he said Turkmenistan would host the first meeting of global experts on that subject.  Earlier this month, it had hosted a high-level conference on transport and transit corridors.  The Ashgabat Declaration set the foundation for long-term practical interaction to develop transport and communications partnerships, he added.

He stressed support for the decisions made at the climate change summits in Copenhagen, Cancun, Durban and Rio.  His Government had launched several concrete initiatives to enhance regional and global interaction in that sphere, including creation of a United Nations Regional Centre for Climate Change Technologies, to be based in Turkmenistan.  He urged the United Nations to support its establishment.  In June, the Turkmen Government, the International Organization for Migration and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had organized an international conference on migration and statelessness.  His Government would strive to translate into action the main points of the conference’s declaration, which called for better multilateral cooperation, as well as legal, social and material support for migrants.

For information media. Not an official record.