25 September 2014

General Assembly Session Pivotal If World Leaders Ensure Effective Custodianship of Environment, Economic Justice, Social Responsibility, Speaker Says in Debate

“If we did what we must, it could be remembered in history as the session that helped us turn the corner in ensuring effective custodianship of the environment, economic justice and social responsibility,” the General Assembly was told today as its annual debate continued.

A mixed picture emerged, however, on the world’s state of affairs as leaders called for cooperation to combat terrorism and regional conflicts by eliminating such underlying causes as poverty and addressing global climate change.

Pride and optimism were also evident, however, as African delegates took the floor.  The Prime Minister of Ethiopia described Africa as “the rising continent offering tremendous opportunities for trade and investment”.  He stressed that conflict was not an exclusively African phenomenon, underscoring that the threat of terrorism had affected ever greater and wider areas of the world.

Indeed, said President John Dramani Mahama of Ghana, Africa was particularly vulnerable to terrorism, as the continent’s sheer size and vast terrain offered innumerable places for terrorists to hide.  Given that more than 60 per cent of Africa’s population was under the age of 35, with many living in extreme poverty, terrorists exploited the ignorance and disillusionment of young people who lacked the skills, education and opportunities to find gainful employment.

In that vein, Iran’s President also regretted the spread of terrorism, of the view that it was the strategic mistakes of the West — in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Caucuses — that had turned those parts of the world into a haven for terrorists.  To defeat that scourge, the underlying causes of poverty, unemployment, discrimination and injustice must be addressed, he said, adding that democracy was the product of growth and development, and not something that could be imported from the West to the East.

Describing a different kind of battle, the President of Palau said climate change was the planet’s “silent war”.  A temperature increase of 3.6˚C was simply unacceptable, and if that was the best global leaders could do, “we might as well throw in the towel and stop having children, because there will be no future for them”.  However, he said the Pacific region, whose people comprehended first hand the real and present impacts of climate change, would not go down without a fight.

Looking forward, the President of Niger said the post-2015 agenda would be dominated by the three “Ds”:  defence, democracy and development.  He urged the world community to stand in greater solidarity.  He agreed it was vital to address climate change because environmental issues, such as the decrease in rainfall in the Sahel region and the frequency of floods and drought, had exacerbated poverty and had consequently caused the youth to turn to terrorism and organized crime.

Other speakers today included the Heads of State and Government of Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Latvia, Madagascar, Malawi, Morocco, Nauru, Netherlands, Norway, Panama, Peru, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Tajikistan, Tunisia, United Republic of Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

Also delivering statements were the Foreign Ministers of Cameroon, Republic of Moldova and Senegal.

The President of the European Council also spoke.

The Assembly will meet again at 9 a.m. tomorrow to continue its general debate.


MAHAMADOU ISSOUFOU, President of Niger, said that sociopolitical crises, religious extremism, armed conflict, terrorism, trans-boundary crime, problems of development, climate change and pandemics, such as those caused by the Ebola virus, were concerns of extreme importance today.  In order to meet the challenges of promoting peace, stability, security and development, there must be greater global solidarity and sharing.  Despite the tremendous progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals, such as that of his country, for example, in reducing the number of people suffering from hunger and mortality rates of children under the age of five, vast gaps remained and would remain after the 2015 target date.

The post-2015 agenda would be dominated by the three Ds: defence, democracy and development, he said.  Pointing to increasing poverty as well as conflicts around the world, he said the international community must establish a shared goal and strategy to reduce and eradicate those ills.  That must include defending democratic institutions, protecting the people and cutting off financing for terrorism.  Resolving the Palestinian question was also important.  There must be bolstered action to promote national reconciliation in Libya.  He called for increased regional and international cooperation to address the extreme aggression of the Boko Haram militant movement in Nigeria.  On Mali, he welcomed inter-Malian dialogue and hoped it would lead to an agreement that would respect the country’s integrity.  In Mali and the Central African Republic, a “Pandora’s box of Balkanization” must be closed to prevent Africa from going up in flames, he said, stressing that “the future of Africa is in its unity”.

The fight against inequality must be made a priority and placed at the centre of the post-2015 development agenda, he said.  With its high economic growth rate, Africa was the continent of the twentieth century.  Indeed, it would be the continent of the twenty-first century when it converted its own raw materials into manufactured goods and took its place in global industrial production, when its relations with other nations were governed by fair trade, not by Official Development Assistance (ODA), and when a broad middle class would arise thanks to good political and economic governance.  The vision contained in the African Union’s 2063 agenda indicated that Africa was on the right path.  It was in the international community’s interest to mainstream the continent’s priorities.

The international community must also address the challenge of climate change, he said.  The drop in rainfall in the Sahel region; the growing spread of desert and sand, as had been seen along the Niger River; the drying up of Chad Lake and the prevalence of floods and drought; among other environmental concerns; had contributed to the impoverishment of people and caused youth to embrace terrorism and organized crime.  In consideration of those challenges, he expressed hope that humanity would create and implement a development model that would save the planet and build a fairer, more humane world.

ANDREJ KISKA, President of Slovakia, said that 20 years ago Ukraine had abandoned its nuclear programme in exchange for guarantees of security and territorial integrity.  Today, instead of marking the anniversary of that achievement, they were witnessing an armed conflict and political instability.  His Government strongly denounced the violation of the territorial integrity of any State, with Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea being no exemption.  Only dialogue and a diplomatic solution of the conflict, with Russia’s participation, would lead to sustainable peace in Ukraine.

He further warned that the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) had become a global threat.  Their ideology and acts represented an unprecedented brutality and twisted use of media for self-promotion.  They embodied ethnic and religious cleansing that would not stop at the borders of Iraq and Syria, but had the ambition to spread beyond the Middle East.  He called on the international community to stand united on Iraq and prevent ISIL from taking hold of the occupied territory and consolidating its military and economic power there.

Moving on to Afghanistan, he expressed his conviction that in the aftermath of the recent presidential elections, the country would be able to create conditions to achieve national and societal unity, and continue supporting international assistance.  He was confident that the agreement reached between the two presidential candidates would contribute to the stability of Afghanistan.

He highlighted disarmament as key to eliminating potential sources of tension and conflict.  The signing of the Arms Trade Treaty in 2013 had been an important step towards establishing common legal standards for regulating and monitoring the international trade of conventional weapons.  As one of the first of 50 countries to ratify that Treaty, Slovakia was hopeful that its implementation would help to eliminate the risk of the illegal arms trade, thus strengthening global security.

JOHN DRAMANI MAHAMA, President of Ghana, said that Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the three countries most affected by the Ebola outbreak, had been struggling to rebuild their social and economic infrastructures.  Even before the outbreak, they had been operating with limited resources, an insufficient number of treatment facilities, and a shortage of qualified medical staff.  So far, there had been 5,843 recorded cases of Ebola, of which 2,803 had resulted in death, with the World Health Organization (WHO) predicting that the number of cases could rise to 20,000 by November if the disease was not brought under control.  Ebola was not just a West African problem, but a global one, as it knew no boundaries.  To help the affected countries, Ghana had offered its capital city, Accra, as a base of operations for activities geared towards containing the disease.

On terrorism, he highlighted the particular vulnerability of Africa, which, due to its sheer size and vast terrain, offered a myriad of places for terrorists to hide and create safe havens.  With more than 60 per cent of Africa’s population under the age of thirty-five and a significant number living in extreme poverty, terrorists also had the opportunity to recruit by exploiting the ignorance and disillusionment of young people who lacked the skills, education and opportunities to find gainful employment.  The problem had been made even worse with the proliferation of technology, facilitating communication within terrorist cells and between terrorist organizations.

On Ghana’s current economic situation, he noted that over the past year his people had seen an increase in the cost of living.  Falling commodity prices had led to a decline in tax revenue from companies operating in the country, as well as to a massive drop in export earnings.  That had contributed to a general sense of macroeconomic instability, and had placed a lot of pressure on Ghana’s currency.  Furthermore, instability in the global commodity markets had directly affected public budgets and, hence, the country’s ability to finance its development.

With regard to gender equality, he highlighted Ghana’s commitment to the improvement of women’s lives.  His Administration boasted the highest number of women appointed to public office in the history of Ghana, including seven female Cabinet ministers.  Furthermore, it had submitted to Parliament an Intestate Succession Bill, which ensured that if a spouse died without having written a will, the surviving spouse would not be dispossessed of their marital assets.  Also submitted to Parliament was a Property Rights of Spouses Bill, which ensured that in the case of marriage dissolution, a spouse would be entitled to an equitable portion of the property acquired during the union.

HASSAN ROUHANI, President of Iran, said he came from a region of the world whose many parts were currently burning in the fire of extremism and radicalism.  To the east and west of his country, extremists threatened its neighbours and resorted to violence and bloodshed.  They did not speak a “single” language nor were they of a “single” skin colour or nationality; they had come to the Middle East from around the world with a shared ideology of violence and extremism.  Deeply regretful that terrorism had become globalized, he said the extremists of the world had found each other and put out the call “extremists of the world unite”.  To that, he asked, “But are we united against the extremists?”

He said that extremism was not a regional issue that only the nations in his region would have to confront.  It was a global issue that certain States had helped create and for which their peoples were paying the price.  Today’s anti-Westernism was the offspring of yesterday’s colonialism and a reaction to yesterday’s racism.  To fight the underlying causes of terrorism, he emphasized that poverty, unemployment, discrimination, humiliation and injustice must be addressed, pointing out that the strategic blunders of the West in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Caucuses had turned those parts of the world into a haven for terrorists and extremists.

Military aggression against Afghanistan and Iraq and improper interference in the developments in Syria were clear examples of that erroneous strategic approach in the Middle East, he noted.  Democracy was the product of growth and development, not of war and aggression.  It was not a product that could be commercially imported from the West to the East.  In an underdeveloped society, imported democracy led only to a weak and vulnerable Government.  Further, he warned against the spread of extremism and the danger posed by an inadequate understanding and incorrect approach to that phenomenon, adding that all the nations in the region must exert broad cooperation on social and political as well as security and defence issues to reach a common and durable understanding.

He called the continued oppressive sanctions against a moderate and independent Iran a strategic mistake.  In the past year, his country had engaged in transparent dialogue to build confidence regarding its peaceful nuclear programme, noting that only through negotiations could the issue be resolved.  It remained committed to continuing a peaceful nuclear programme and negotiations in earnest and good faith.  However, Iranians could not trust in any security cooperation between their Government and those who had imposed sanctions, creating obstacles to their accessing food and medicine.  Reaching a final nuclear agreement with Iran would be an historic opportunity for the West to show that it did not oppose the advancement and development of others, did not discriminate in adhering to international rules and regulations, demonstrating that the way to resolution was through negotiation and respect, not conflict and sanction.

He said his Government’s policy was to work towards constructive interaction with its neighbours on the basis of mutual respect and emphasis on common interests.  The notion that Iran sought to control other Muslim countries in the region was a myth fanned in recent years by an “Iranophobic” project.  In that regard, his Government worked towards putting an end to delusional “Iranophobia”, setting the stage for strategic partnerships with its neighbours.  If the right approach was not taken in dealing with violence and extremism, the international community would find a more turbulent and tumultuous region that would have repercussions for the rest of the world.  However, while the right solution must be one with international support, it must come from within the region, he concluded.

MOHAMED MONCEF MARZOUKI, President of Tunisia, said that his country had managed to eliminate a dictatorial regime and begin rebuilding a democratic State through a process of national dialogue.  Tunisia today was a testing ground for sharing authority between secular moderates and Islamists, and was meeting counterrevolution with a response of moderation.

The volatile situation in neighbouring Libya was of great concern, he noted.  Tunisia was “appalled” by violence against Christians in the region, and ashamed of acts committed in the name of Allah, who had defined himself as compassionate and merciful.  Nothing justified the violence that had reached horrific levels, he said, condemning the execution of British and French nationals.  What the world was witnessing today was the sum of five decades of despotic policies that had denied rights and freedoms while amassing wealth.

The world needed regimes that govern in harmony with their people, the release of all political prisoners, dialogue with all moderates, and an economy that favoured the interests of the majority, he said.  Education that developed minds and “raised the banner of freedom” was also key.  Some major Powers had for decades supported despotism in his country under the pretext of supporting stability.

Turning to the situation in other countries, he called for a lifting of the blockade on Gaza, and also for improvement of the situation in Syria.  On United Nations reform, he called for an expansion of the number of permanent members of the Security Council to better reflect the world as it was today, not as it was at the conclusion of the Second World War.  He praised the work of the International Criminal Court and then announced that his country would propose to the United Nations legal organ the creation of an international constitutional court that would be able to issue decisions on “illegitimate, bogus elections”.  This idea had been well-received in international academic forums, he said, expressing wishes that the creation of this court would not take as much time as creating the Criminal Court had taken.

JUAN MANUEL SANTOS CALDERÓN, President of Colombia, expressed hope that after more than half a century of conflict Colombia would soon be at peace.  Over the past two years, the peace process between the Government and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) guerrilla group in Havana had produced concrete results.  The two sides had already agreed on three points of a five-point agenda:  comprehensive rural development, political participation and the illicit drug problem.  On the third point, an agreement was reached to continue dismantling the drug mafia, promote a national programme of crop substitution and alternative crop development and address the problem of overconsumption from a public health perspective.

Discussions on the remaining points — repercussions for victims of the conflict and the end of conflict itself — were already under way, he said, stressing the importance of victims’ rights to justice, truth and reparation.  A subcommittee comprising active military and police personnel had been created to set the terms for the final bilateral ceasefire process and subsequent demobilization of guerrillas.  Colombia aspired to bring good news that “the last armed conflict in the Western Hemisphere is coming to an end”.

Colombia was not oblivious to the suffering of those who lived in places such as Syria, Iraq, Libya, the Sahel and Ukraine, and condemned the ruthless terrorism of ISIL, he said.  Nor was Colombia indifferent to the suffering of so many families in Palestine and Israel, or to the loss of life due to epidemics like Ebola in West Africa.  With the seventieth anniversary of the founding of the United Nations approaching, now was “a definitive moment” for the legitimacy of the Organization and its multilateral system.  The global community must dissuade those who promoted permanent war.

In his own country and around the world, drug trafficking fuelled conflicts, he said.  The so-called “war on drugs” had scored some successes in the Western Hemisphere, he said, drawing attention to the resolution adopted last week at the special session of the Organization of American States’ General Assembly in Guatemala.  Those results would inform the special session on drugs that the United Nations had called for in 2016.  He was committed to making Colombia a country at total peace with equality and the highest rate of education in Latin America by 2025.

HERY MARTIAL RAJAONARIMAMPIANINA RAKOTOARIMANANA, President of Madagascar, said that in choosing to restore constitutional order through the ballot box, the people of his country had confirmed their commitment to security and stability.  In so doing, they were building peace and security in the region and throughout the world.  Without peace, there could be no development, and without development, there could be no peace.  While his country had already achieved important milestones in development, it lacked the resources to tackle the magnitude of the tasks at hand.

Five per cent of the world’s biodiversity was located in Madagascar, he said.  His country had sought to preserve that wealth and to ensure better management of it for future generations.  For example, Government authorities were working on a zero-tolerance policy on all kinds of trafficking of natural resources and wildlife.  Madagascar’s strategic location meant that it had to protect fishing areas and marine reserves.  Due to the increased potential for piracy, terrorism and trafficking, international cooperation was needed to protect such areas.

Madagascar was also strengthening its legal arsenal by ratifying a number of multilateral agreements, such as the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol, on action to address climate change, he said.  As his country had experienced more than five years of political crises together with sanctions and all kinds of inhibitive measures, it was clear that it would not achieve most of the Millennium Development Goals.  Nevertheless, it had focused on the development of its people, in the areas of education, health care, jobs, security and access to information.  The stakes of climate change were enormous for Madagascar.  While resources to mitigate it fell short, his Government had nevertheless taken steps to reduce its impact by drafting a national policy for clean development and renewable energy.

As a demonstration of Madagascar’s commitment to the United Nations beyond participation in its committees or conferences, he said that national police and penitentiary administration served in the Organization’s peacekeeping operations in Africa.  The Government had also sent 140 police officers to serve in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).  It continued to advocate equitable representation in the Security Council so that countries directly involved in crises and conflicts could take part fully in the resolution process.

IVO JOSIPOVIĆ, President of Croatia, said that faced with armed conflicts, natural disasters and pandemic diseases, the international community should look to the wise words of the United Nations Charter for guidance in how to deal with the varied threats, doing “everything we can” to avoid regression.  Croatia was deeply concerned with the situation in Ukraine.  Equally, the spread of terrorism in the Middle East and Africa, notably by the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, was of grave concern.  Croatia was ready to make a contribution to Iraqi forces as well as for Iraqi Kurdish forces, he said.

To be faced with such crises was “truly unnerving”, he said, noting that he hoped Croatia’s experience with peacebuilding would be applied in helping post-conflict societies stand on their own.  His Government expected a review of the peacebuilding architecture of the Organization to consolidate existing knowledge and experience and improve the overall peacebuilding process.  Women had a special role in maintaining peace and advancing development, and that was why Croatia was organizing a high-level meeting on 26 September on the gender dimension of sustainable development within the context of post-conflict recovery.

On climate change, his Government was hopeful that a global agreement would be reached, as that pressing issue remained one of the “main pillars” of the post-2015 development agenda.  He expressed his Government’s support for the Organization’s human rights mechanisms, adding Croatia’s voice in calling for universal adherence to the Rome Statute and universal jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.  After reviewing national achievements in regional cooperation, he touched on the need for reform of the United Nations system, particularly Security Council enlargement by an additional non-permanent seat for the Eastern European group, as well as the establishment of a code of conduct regarding the suspension of veto use in cases relating to “mass crime”.

On regional consolidation, he said his country looked forward to the day when all countries of South-East Europe would be admitted to the European Union.  Cooperating on such diverse issues as humanitarian assistance after devastating floods, or dealing with “truth and justice” in the context of a “difficult past”, countries of the region were finding numerous ways of laying a joint foundation for sustainable peace and stability.  The Secretary-General’s Global Education First Initiative was one of the best remedies for achieving such social improvement.

HASSANAL BOLKIAH MU’IZZADDIN WADDAULAH, Sultan of Brunei Darussalam, said that 2014 marked the thirtieth anniversary of its membership to the United Nations.  On the Millennium Development Goals, his nation had contributed to training and capacity-building through measures of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), such as the “Initiative for ASEAN Integration” and an “English Enrichment Programme for ASEAN”.  On the post-2015 development agenda, he welcomed the future direction emphasizing the importance of human development, one which was inclusive, people-centred and sustainable.  Those elements were integral to Brunei Darussalam’s National Vision 2035.

Citing unanimous conviction on the importance of protecting the environment, he welcomed the convening of the United Nations Climate Summit in galvanizing support to address the impact of climate change and ensuring a transformative post-2015 development agenda.  His Government was concerned with security developments in many parts of the world.  For its part, his nation had participated in United Nations peacekeeping, specifically the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and international peace monitoring missions in the southern Philippines.

Global efforts in realizing the Millennium Goals would be in vain if, at the same time, the international community disregarded commitments to pursue the peaceful means of settling disputes as enshrined in the Organization’s Charter, he said.  Disaster management was among the matters of importance to his country.  In that context, in 2013 his nation had hosted a humanitarian and disaster relief exercise to train military personnel of big and small nations in the Asia-Pacific.  On Palestine, freedom and justice was long overdue, he said.

ROBERT G. MUGABE, President of Zimbabwe, said that despite significant achievements made thus far with the Millennium Development Goals, progress among regions and within countries had been uneven.  He praised the proposed sustainable development goals for taking on the “unfinished business” of the Millennium Development Goals.  Part of that unfinished business was poverty eradication.  That issue should be a top priority of any future development agenda, which must be informed by national priorities.  To that end, his Government had adopted the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation to help expand the country’s industrial base, which had been a key component of sustained economic and human development.

Because Zimbabwe had been preoccupied with the economic empowerment of its people, it had become a victim of the “evil machinations of Western countries”, he said.  Those States continued to apply sanctions as a foreign policy tool to achieve short-term political objectives, notably a regime change.  Zimbabweans should not continue to suffer due to “unjustified and illegal sanctions”, which violated the fundamental principles of the United Nations Charter and should thus be condemned by the international community.  He called for their immediate and unconditional removal.

He said that the African Union was working tirelessly to push for peace in conflict-ridden States in Africa, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, Central Africa Republic and Somalia.  Still, the international community must remain engaged in the maintenance of peace and stability in Africa by enhancing its peacekeeping capacity through training, logistical and financial support.  In the Western Sahara, “the last colonial vestige” on the continent, the United Nations must ensure that its people achieved self-determination.

The world had also witnessed the suffering and persecution of the people of Palestine at the hands of Israel, he said.  Despite “brutal and random” destruction of infrastructure in Gaza, the international community had maintained a “deafening silence”.  Lasting peace in the Middle East could only be achieved through a two-State solution, based on the 1967 borders.  Settlements or the use of force would only prolong the suffering of the Palestinians.

OLLANTA HUMALA TASSO, President of Peru, said the sustainable development goals of the post-2015 development agenda deserved strong support and adequate and timely resources.  The adoption next year of the post-2015 development framework should lead to the establishment of a global partnership for sustainable development as well as participatory monitoring and accountability mechanisms to ensure appropriate follow-up.  There was a clear-cut link between Peru’s public policies on social inclusion and the goals agreed upon by the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals.

His Government had prioritized action to reduce all forms of poverty and inequality and eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, he said.  Similarly, it had focused on the fight for gender equality, empowerment of women, access to quality education and elimination of all forms of gender-based violence and violence against children.  State reforms were made to achieve those goals.  His Government had been working hard to lay the foundation for sustainable development.  Peru had become a clear example of how it was possible to achieve substantial progress in just a few years, having attained some of the Millennium Development Goals even before the 2015 deadline.  He was committed to reducing the poverty rate to 20 per cent by the end of his term in 2016.

In only one generation, he said, Peru had made deep transformations thanks to peace and stability, the consolidation of democracy, opening the economy and the effectiveness of social-inclusion policies.  His Government had been increasing investment in social policies every year.  About half of the 12 per cent budget increase for 2015 went towards education and health.  He urged all stakeholders to participate actively in tackling the global drug problem, stressing the shared responsibility among countries that produced, consumed and financed the trade or served as a transit point.  They must help define a comprehensive strategy.  Peru’s relationships with its neighbours were excellent, he said, spotlighting a recent settlement of the maritime dispute with Chile.  The execution of the International Court of Justice’s ruling on that matter was the fastest in its history.

Drawing attention to Peru’s hosting of the twentieth United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP20, in Lima in December, he stressed the need for national commitments and for the formation of the largest alliance in history to address that transcendental challenge.  He urged Governments to send delegations with decision-making capability to the conference.  It was not just a matter of capitalizing the Green Climate Fund, but also of setting forth national commitments and having a binding agreement.  A 2011 study revealed that addressing the consequences of global warming was costing Peru 4 per cent of its annual gross domestic product (GDP).  That figure could reach more than 5 per cent by 2030 and 20 per cent in 2050 if no immediate action was taken to address the scourge.

SHINZO ABE, Prime Minister of Japan, said his Government was putting forth its best efforts to fight Ebola.  In response to the outbreak, it had sent highly knowledgeable and experienced Japanese experts as members of World Health Organization missions.  Japan had also extended a total of $5 million in financial assistance and would provide personal protective equipment for health-care workers.  He pledged to extend an additional $40 million in the future.

Speaking on the Middle East situation, he said that the region was in a state of unrest, with ISIL activities representing a serious threat to the international order.  He highlighted the importance of preventing extremism from taking root, while responding swiftly to the region’s humanitarian crises.  To assist in that regard, Japan would immediately provide $50 million in emergency assistance.  To contribute to Ukraine’s stability, Japan was providing economic assistance of up to $1.5 billion, while also preparing new assistance for the reconstruction of the eastern part of the country.

He expressed Japan’s aspirations to join the Security Council as a non-permanent member at the election next year.  Since its accession to the United Nations in 1956, the country had worked tirelessly for the Organization’s causes.  With its seventieth anniversary looming, he sought resolution of the long-standing issue of reforming the United Nations to reflect the realities of the twenty-first century.  Turning to gender equality, he expressed his Government’s commitment to increasing women’s participation in society.  In less than a year, their empowerment had become a guiding principle, driving Japan’s policies, both domestically and overseas.  His Government had also focused on advancing the status of girls and mothers in Africa, a region which it prioritized in its foreign aid.  Japan intended to free the twenty-first-century world of human rights violations against women and was committed to eliminating sexual violence during conflicts.

HAILEMARIAM DESSALEGN, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, said the current session was being held at an historic period characterized by a major undertaking to shape “the future we want”.  “If we did what we must, it could be remembered in history as a session that helped us turn the corner in ensuring effective custodianship of the environment, economic justice and social responsibility,” he said.

Noting that last month marked 500 days until the target date of the Millennium Development Goals in 2015, he said Africa had registered robust economic growth over the last decade and that the stereotypical narrative about the continent was slowly changing.  “Africa is now the rising continent offering tremendous opportunities for trade and investment,” he said.  Notable progress had been made on the implementation of the Millennium Goals in the region.  However, much remained to be done, and thus it was important not to overlook the Millennium Goals as they remained “unfinished business”.

Noting that Ethiopia would host the Third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa in July 2015, he said the effectiveness of the post-2015 agenda depended, among other things, on the success of the Conference.  On climate change, he stressed the need to reach a globally binding agreement by 2015 to limit the rise of global temperature.  Africa was facing the brunt of climate change and that was undermining its development aspirations, including the Millennium Goals.  Mitigation and adaptation remained a priority for the region, he said, calling for international support in that regard.

“Conflict is not an exclusively African phenomenon,” he said, underscoring that the threat of terrorism had affected ever greater and wider areas of the world.  At no time over the last many decades had the need for effective international and regional cooperation been as pressing as it had been today.  The issue of “foreign fighters” had become a source of major concern to many.  The international community could not be oblivious to the nexus between the sustainable development agenda and the global situation of peace and security.  Delivering on and implementing a transformative post-2015 development agenda required a peaceful and stable global environment.  In that vein, the spread of the Ebola virus was both a humanitarian and security challenge, and containing that disease should be a matter of utmost priority.

MATTEO RENZI, Prime Minister of Italy, said he was honoured to address in the same Hall in which former United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld had spoken.  Citing present challenges, he said the future was no longer a dream, nor could the past be erased.  With that, he highlighted the Srebrenica massacre from 20 years ago.  The killings had found no justification, and he advocated for political effort as the way to prevent bloodshed.  Italy, due to its central location, had assumed a political role in the Mediterranean region, with strategic interventions, conducted with partners, saving 80,000 human lives.

The situation in Libya, he said, was now a matter of concern, and the risk of it spiralling into violence should not be underestimated, as that could threaten the entire North African region.  Italy was committed to working with the United Nations Secretary-General to address the situation.  In the battle against the ISIL terrorist group in Iraq, the international community could not remain idle.  The fanatics had killed many, with children shot against the wall and young women raped in warehouses.  “Genocide is under way,” he warned, and only a united international effort could defeat it.  That was why Italy supported the call by United States President Barack Obama for a broader coalition.

His country contributed troops to United Nations activities in Lebanon and Afghanistan and supported a two-State solution in the Israel-Palestinian conflict, he said, adding that the rights of Palestinians must be respected and Israel’s right to exist must not be questioned.  The situation in Ukraine jeopardized the process of European integration, and Italy supported the right of people there and the nation’s territorial integrity, which had been violated.  He urged the parties to seize the opportunity provided by the Minsk ceasefire.

The Ebola outbreak had humanitarian and social impacts, he said, adding that his country was doing its part.  He also called for gender equality and non-discrimination based on religion, and advocated for a moratorium on capital punishment; a resolution to be tabled to that end would need broader support.  The Security Council should become more effective, but creation of more Council seats could compromise its effectiveness.  Finally, he warned, there would be no peace, no freedom and no respect without a huge investment in education.

HERMAN VAN ROMPUY, President of the European Council, said that the abrupt and illegal annexation of Crimea in March had triggered the gravest threat to European security in decades.  The European Union stood firm in its solidarity with Ukraine and had responded to the aggression and violation of international law with political, economic and financial sanctions.  However, the sanctions were not a goal in themselves and could be revised, provided there was tangible progress.  The peace process launched in Minsk must be advanced, and all parties must respect the ceasefire and abide by the Peace Plan.  The Europeans were ready to engage with the Russian Federation and reestablish a basis of trust, he added.

Highlighting situations in Iraq, Syria and the wider Middle East as the most pressing concern today, he welcomed the words and measures by the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and Muslim nations against ISIL.  He urged the international community to do its part in confronting and isolating it by blocking financial and weapons flows, cutting off illegal oil revenue, and stopping the influx of foreign fighters.  Urgent collective action was needed to stop those combatants from joining ISIL’s ranks, as underlined in yesterday’s special Security Council session.

The crisis, however, could not be resolved without a political solution for Syria, which he called one of the international community’s “biggest failures”.  There should be a comprehensive regional resolution, which must include a two-State solution.  The violent dynamics were spreading instability and fostering terrorism, organized crime, arms flows, drugs trafficking, human smuggling and radicalization.  Another tragic symptom of an imploding Middle East was dramatic migration in the Mediterranean, with millions fleeing the war in Syria into countries that included Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.  European lifeguards, he noted, had rescued up to a thousand people a week — people risking their lives on small boats in search of a life free from fear.

Reaffirming Europe’s commitment to fighting climate change, he expressed his hope for all nations, large and small, rich and poor, to assume their responsibility.  He called Ebola a plague of modern times, and the crisis caused by the outbreak a reminder that the future of a country and well-being of all depended on health-care structures.  Europe was there with others to help, to comfort, and to heal.  In closing, he said that fear must be overcome by fighting danger, restoring justice, and striving for peace so that next year when world leaders met again in New York, they could say that the spell of that dreadful summer of 2014 had been broken.  “Patiently but relentlessly we reconquer a place for hope,” he concluded.

GASTON ALPHONSO BROWNE, Prime Minister and Minister for Finance and Corporate Governance, Antigua and Barbuda, said it was disappointing that powerful States had circumvented the United Nations in pursuit of their national goals.  Antigua and Barbuda strongly supported the Organization’s reform, especially of the Security Council.  Today’s arrangement, where five permanent members were in possession of veto power, was “an anachronism”, which not only had no legitimacy, but also paralysed the Council from acting in certain cases.  It was paradoxical, he said, that those nations advocated respect for democracy and the rule of law, but declined to implement those ideals abroad.

Small States like Antigua and Barbuda relied on the international rule of law to protect their rights, he said.  To that end, his country had 10 years ago brought a trade dispute with the United States to the World Trade Organization (WTO) Dispute Settlement Body.  Although the judgment had come down in favour of his country, the United States Government had not settled with Antigua and Barbuda, denying income to the country, which, had it been forthcoming, would have been used for climate change mitigation and to cope with the financial crisis.  It was crucial for democracy and the rule of law to be respected by the powerful as well as by the weak to avoid resentment and conflict.

He urged the United States to end its “unjust” blockade of Cuba, and again spoke of the theme of powerful versus weak.  His country was small, with no military might or economic clout, he said, adding, “All that we have is membership of the international system as our shield, and our voice in this body as our sword.”  That was why reform of the United Nations system was so crucial.  Turning to the Millennium Development Goals, he noted that the developed world was not meeting the official development assistance targets, which led the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) region as a whole to turn to “non-traditional” sources of assistance, such as from China and Venezuela.  The global economic crisis was still having an impact on small States in the Caribbean, and it was urgent for the United Nations, through its appropriate organs, to address the debts those countries had accumulated as a result.

Crisis was staring human civilization in the face, he said, whether it was through climate change, the Ebola virus, or the threat posed by the Islamic State, whose “savage and cruel” acts were deplorable.  The world could not afford to slip back into “the dark ages”, he said, stressing that the United Nations was critically needed at a time like this; it had no substitute anywhere in the world.  His country, for its part, was taking steps to build an all-inclusive, egalitarian society, working towards full gender equality and women’s advancement and empowerment.

SHEIKH JABER AL-MUBARAK AL-HAMAD AL SABAH, Prime Minister of Kuwait, said that the United Nations’ current executive mechanisms and administrative structures impeded it from doing what was expected of it.  The United Nations organs, including the Security Council, and specialized agencies needed comprehensive reform.  Kuwait called for an enlargement of the Council by adding a permanent seat for Arab States.  In 1945, there had been only 5 Arab States, whereas today, there were 22, with a population of over 350 million people, he said.

Turning to the situation in the Middle East, he said Israel had violated “the most basic rules of international law” during recent upheavals in Gaza.  He renewed his Government’s call for the Security Council to assume its responsibility by providing international protection to the Palestinian people and Territory, and to compel Israel, the occupying Power, to halt unilateral practices that aimed to impose a fait accompli through its illegal settlements and unlawful siege of Gaza.  He urged a return to negotiations leading to the establishment of a Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital.  On the Syrian situation, he lamented the suffering of increasing numbers of people, and noted Kuwait’s contribution of $800 million in humanitarian support for people in need.  A political solution to the crisis was urgent.

Tensions in Yemen resulting from “continued rivalry” between some factions were a source of concern, and as for the conditions in Libya, he said Kuwait renewed its support for the elected Government there.  Kuwait further supported ongoing international efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue, adding, however, that they must guarantee the country’s right to peaceful use of nuclear energy, under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) supervision and monitoring.  His country denounced the actions of the “so-called” Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and its grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, reiterating its support for the Iraqi Government to overcome terrorism.

Praising the Millennium Development Goals for their “outstanding role” in improving the lives of millions, he said he looked forward to a “comprehensive and ambitious” post-2015 development plan.  On that note, the Secretary-General’s Climate Change Summit this week was commendable, as that issue affected the world in general and the Arab world in particular.  Humanitarian help to the needy was at the basis of Kuwait’s foreign policy, he said, noting the doubling of his country’s fixed annual voluntary contributions to a number of international agencies and organizations, including the WHO, in response to the Ebola crisis.

VICTOR-VIOREL PONTA, Prime Minister of Romania, said the current situation in Ukraine was of the utmost concern for his country due to its security impacts on Eastern European countries.  The unilateral annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, an unprecedented action on the European continent in decades, had been followed by an internal conflict in eastern Ukraine, which was generated by forces pursuing separatist goals, financed and supplied by the Russian Federation.  His Government rejected any form of external pressure towards Eastern European States aspiring for a European integration, and it supported Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

Located at the crossroads of the Danube and Black Sea regions, as well as that of Northern Europe and the Balkans, Romania, he said, fully understood that regional cooperation was a key to stability there.  Joint initiatives on the economy, environment, infrastructure and cross-border cooperation, including through the European Union Strategy for the Danube River and the European Union Black Sea Synergy, had a long-term impact on all countries in the region.  He praised the solidarity expressed by the Union and its transatlantic partners in supporting the European aspirations sought by the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia.

The proliferation of radical Islamist movements and the emergence of new groups, such as ISIL, had heightened the terrorist threat, he said.  The group went beyond Iraq and Syria, and therefore represented a major challenge to the global order; it must be addressed by all States.  On development, the future agenda should address poverty eradication and sustainable development, good governance and the rule of law, and it should provide a platform for social inclusion and reduced unemployment.

On refugees, he said that the emergency transit centre in Timisoara, Romania, established by his Government, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and the International Organization for Migration, was the first of its kind in the world and had proved to be a feasible mechanism, offering safety to persons in urgent need of international protection.  It, thus, was a practical expression of the human security concept.

TONY ABBOTT, Prime Minister of Australia, said that while the United Nations was an “imperfect instrument”, like any institution, his country had always believed in the Organization’s potential and supported its work.  He highlighted that Australia — a relatively small country — had provided more than 65,000 personnel to more than 50 multilateral peace and security operations since the United Nations’ establishment.  “We have never shrunk from shouldering our responsibilities,” he added.

As a good global citizen, his country had pledged $8 million towards combating the Ebola outbreak and contributed health professionals to work with international agencies in the region, he said.  It had sponsored a Security Council resolution to investigate the Malaysian flight MH17 crash site and return home those who perished.  Australia would do everything to ensure that the investigation was not undermined and that the crime was not covered up.  On another matter of importance to his country, he said that, at the request of the Iraqi Government, an Australian force had been deployed to the Middle East to join the coalition to degrade the ISIL terrorist movement.

To build a better world, it was crucial to create stronger and more resilient people and communities, he said.  While a robust economy would not solve every problem, it would make most of them easier to tackle.  As this year’s Chair of the Group of 20 (G20), Australia was determined to promote private-sector led growth, since profitable, private businesses were the “best source of real, sustainable, wealth”.  Free trade, infrastructure, a modern international tax system, strong global economic institutions and a resilient financial sector were all part of the G20 agenda.  “When wealth increases, countries grow stronger,” he said.  The goal was to boost output by an extra 2 per cent over the next five years to create millions of jobs and trillions in wealth around the world.

Likewise, the post-2015 development agenda should also focus on economic growth as it eased social challenges and that of climate change, among others.  To those who doubted that stronger economic growth could be achieved, he pointed to the rise of Asia, which, in less than two generations, had been able to undertake the greatest social and economic transformation in history.

AL HADJI YAHYA A.J.J. JAMMEH, President of Gambia, said that human civilization was teetering on the brink of catastrophe.  Greed and exclusion led to international tensions, war, death and destruction.  There were lamentable inactions on the part of the United Nations as powerful Member States took advantage of weaker Members.  The founding fathers of the Organization had intended a world body committed to promoting the principles of peace and security, respectful of the cultural values of all peoples.  To uphold those principles, the Member States needed to avoid all forms of aggression by exercising maximum restraint in their pursuit of national interests.  When there were wars, the world economy suffered.  The United Nations must be an all-encompassing global body working in the service of all, and not just for a few.

He said the international community should build from the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals to face the challenges of the day.  The themes of this year’s General Assembly were thus timely, and gave impetus to further the international agenda post-2015.  There was a need to take stock of the Millennium Development Goals’ achievements and failures, particularly struggling countries that would not meet their targets on time.

A few current issues stood out for which the United Nations could play a stronger role, he said.  One such issue was the Ebola disease.  For those affected countries, development efforts were now on hold as they grappled with the virus.  Humanitarian aid from the United States to battle Ebola was more than just a humanitarian gesture; it was a matter of national security.

The world had witnessed the bloodiest and most heinous forms of terrorism, he said.  Those “human vermin” were claiming to act in the name of Islam.  Before the emergence of Mujahideen in Iran and then Afghanistan in the 1980s, which were created by Western Powers to fight proxy battles, there had been no Islamic terrorism.  Islam was a religion of peace and tolerance, and had nothing to do with those bands of criminals who showed no respect for human life and whose sole intention was to defame Islam.  That religion could not be divided into different branches, such as moderate Islam, violent Islam, and so on.  Rather, it was a pure religion for the best human behaviour, as decreed by Allah the Creator.  Such gangsters as Boko Haram, ISIL and Al-Qaida needed to be wiped out from the face of the Earth “because we don’t need them”.

The situation in the Middle East remained dire, he said, decrying the loss of life in Palestine, especially that of women and children.  Israeli settlements on Palestinian land were unacceptable and undermined any prospect for a two-State solution.  The United Nations had played a strategic mediating role in the past, and must take up a leading role to achieve a durable and peaceful settlement.  The Organization must work harder to foster an environment of peace and tolerance, as there was a grim propagation of misinformation and misinterpretation in the Western media regarding Islam and Sharia law.  Thus the incessant criticism of Sharia law was disrespectful and abhorrent, and was disgraceful to all Muslims.

He said that imposing collective punishment on Cuba was done because its citizens had opted for a system of government of their choice, just as Ukraine wished to do.  On climate change, Africa stood to suffer the most, despite the fact that the continent was not a big contributor to the problem.  Developing countries must not be relegated to the dustbin of history.  Rather, the foundation of any transformative agenda should begin with the reform of global governance, particularly the United Nations system, including the Security Council.  Reform of that body, to reflect current geopolitical realities, was long overdue.

BRONISŁAW KOMOROWSKI, President of Poland, pointed to the toll endured by his country from the two World Wars, out of which the United Nations was born.  He described the failure of the League of Nations to respond to totalitarian expansionism, appeasing dictators at the expense of weaker States.  The Second World War was the price paid for those acts of negligence.  International security had been rebuilt after that war and the world was now looking forward to the United Nations seventieth anniversary.  The Organization had many “beautiful achievements”, but also numerous failures.  The current situation was particularly worrisome because it displayed many symptoms of the phenomena that had caused the fall of the League.  Super-Powers were back in vogue, as were geopolitical zones of influence.  The United Nations should not tolerate any departure from the Charter-based security and international relations principles.

The occupation of Crimea and aggression in Ukraine was a violation of international law standards and “ran roughshod over the United Nations fundamental values”, he said.  The conflict’s ideological backdrop was a return to the rhetoric of the first half of the twentieth century, and imperial domination of weaker nations that were obliged to act as obedient satellites to a Power “performing a revision of the foundations of the civilized order”.  The Security Council was ineffective in protecting peace in Ukraine and elsewhere, partly due to its rules.  Those needed amending, he said, welcoming at the same time General Assembly resolution 68/262 of March 2014, which had taken the side of the weaker party in an act of imperial aggression.

It particularly concerned him to be describing that situation, given that it was the twenty-fifth anniversary of the abolition of communism and the collapse of the Soviet bloc.  Those changes meant freedom, respect for human rights, good governance and an end to the world’s bipolar division.  The changes had begun in Poland with establishment of the Solidarity Movement.  The new logic of international relations had brought unification and integration to Europe, and the European Union had become a “guarantor of peace in Europe and far beyond its borders”.  The end of divisions gave rise to hope for democracy, peace and prosperity, “free from external domination”.  He hoped for a democratic modernization of Russia, too.  However, what had happened in East Europe six months ago “dealt a blow to that hope and threatened security on our continent”.

Wars and conflicts were continuing elsewhere, too, he said, with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant’s brutal murders and terror.  The international community must respond in line with its obligation to protect those threatened by cruel violence.  Conflicts in Syria, Libya, Israel, Gaza and in African States were also painful, he said, urging the super-Powers at the United Nations to influence the parties towards resolution of the issues.  He paid tribute to the Organization and its agencies in aiding refugees and said many humanitarian dramas were caused by a breakdown of fundamental human rights.  Power without control was generally “corrupt, self-loving, incapable of lifting countries out of underdevelopment and poverty”.  That, he asserted, was the background to many conflicts.  More development assistance was needed to help transformations.

He stressed the role of democracy, citing the Community of Democracies established in Warsaw in 2000 and the Lech Wałęsa Solidarity Award as examples of his country’s commitment.  The rule of law and universal fundamental rights were vital to development and should be included in the post-2015 agenda.  The new development blueprint should integrate all elements of sustainable development and achieve international agreement.  Climate change must also be tackled, and he remained committed to achieving the successful conclusion of negotiations on a climate change convention.  Noting the extra responsibility his country was taking in several fields, he looked forward to non-permanent Security Council membership in 2018-2019.  He would support the body’s reform to increase its representation and efficiency, and enable it to fulfil its responsibility to protect.

ANDRIS BĒRZIŅŠ, President of Latvia, said that global security and peace was being challenged by forces willing to “rewrite the history and rules of the international order”.  The Russian aggression against Ukraine had defied the basic principles of the United Nations, uprooting the foundation of the international system.  Those actions could only be defined as a threat to global peace and security and, as such, the illegal annexation of Crimea by that country should not be recognized and must be condemned.  The Russian Federation had a vital role to play in security and stability in Europe and thus should be “part of the solution, not part of the problem”, he said, calling on that country to respect its international commitments and uphold international law.  A resolution was also needed to the protracted conflicts in Transnistria, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabahkh, he said.

On the Syrian situation, he said that while the easing of human suffering should be the immediate priority, the international community must continue political efforts to find a solution to that conflict.  Those responsible for war crimes against humanity in Syria must be held accountable by the International Criminal Court.  The limited ability of the Security Council to address the urgent situations in Ukraine and Syria had highlighted the need to move forward with Council reform.  Towards that end, Latvia supported the Council’s expansion in both categories of membership.  It also believed the French initiative aimed at restricting the use of the veto warranted attention.

In other matters of international security, he welcomed the ongoing dialogue between the E3+3 countries and Iran, which aimed to negotiate a comprehensive agreement on the country’s nuclear programme.  “We must work towards revitalizing the global disarmament and non-proliferation agenda,” he said.  With that in mind, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference next year depended on trust and common purpose.  Latvia was one of the first States to have signed and ratified the Arms Trade Treaty, and it urged all Member States to do the same.

Without peaceful societies, it was not possible to achieve sustainable development, he said, adding that each country had a responsibility in that regard.  The post-2015 agenda must be consistent with all human rights and be underpinned by the rule of law.  It should address inequalities and discrimination, including through information and communication technologies, as those could be key enablers of development.  Gender equality was essential in shaping respectful and equal relationships in society, and those values were important to Latvia.  As an aspiring member of the Human Rights Council for 2015‑2017, his country would continue to promote those important values globally.

ALI BONGO ONDIMBA, President of Gabon, said the current session was being held in a time of threats, including those posed by Boko Haram, which sowed desolation and indiscriminate killing.  Further, Ebola was plunging Africa into mourning.  He paid tribute to the men and women risking their lives, and in some cases giving them in that fight, and he welcomed efforts by the United Nations and Member States.  Gabon had prevailed against Ebola in the past, he noted, voicing its intention to contribute to the new mission.

Concerning a post-2015 development agenda, he said African priorities, including extreme poverty eradication, agriculture, protection of the environment and other important issues, enjoyed pride of place.  A bold development programme was needed, which covered the ideals of the Millennium Development Goals, and also addressed climate change.  Gabon wished to move to an economy of industry and services, and it wished to improve the yield of its educational system.  It was best to anticipate the leap into the post-2015 development agenda, and such aims were a step in that direction.  To lay solid foundations for the agenda, it was necessary to tailor a country’s economic situation.

Gabon’s commitment to combating climate change remained consistent, he said, recalling the latest report of the International Press Telecommunications Council, which was a reminder of the painful reality of climate change.  It was wrong to remain insensitive, he said, adding that Gabon would bear its share of the common responsibility.  In that context, it planned to halve its carbon emissions.  A “South Climate Initiative”, set to follow the Lima conference, would address the climactic upheaval, which was a vital and even an existential issue.  There must be a shared objective, aimed at saving the planet, which should be the focus of the Paris conference in December 2015.

He welcomed the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, and hoped for the creation of a viable Palestinian State living side by side in peace with Israel.  He reiterated support for the Moroccan initiative, which was likely to lead to a lasting settlement.  Further, he favoured lifting the embargo on Cuba.

On other matters of concern, he said the terrorist threat was greater than ever.  Boko Haram caused entire populations to seek shelter far from their homes, in fear, precariousness and despair.  No nation was spared the murderous folly of those negative entities, and thus combating it must be more concerted and coordinated.  He called for strengthening the United Nations operational capacities in support of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.  Finally, he expressed support for the London Initiative of February 2014, opposing poaching and the ivory trade.  Respect for human dignity was at the core of Gabon’s concerns, which was why chairing the Human Rights Council was so important.

JUAN CARLOS VARELA RODRÍGUEZ, President of Panama, said that despite the serious conflicts taking place around the world, the American continent was at peace.  The most serious challenges before it were: inequality; the fight against organized crime and drug and human trafficking; and regulation of migration flows to more developed economies.  While Governments in the region were addressing those challenges, they required further coordination.

Noting that countries had reached consensus 14 years ago when they adopted the Millennium Declaration, he said that certain Millennium Development Goals remained challenges and that new challenges had arisen.  Therefore a new consensus must be built at the regional, hemispheric and global levels.  As a Government that promoted consensus among the international community, Panama was committed to facilitating dialogue towards that end.

Marking the centennial of the Panama Canal, he said that the Isthmus of Panama had been the transit route of civilizations for five centuries, and reiterated a commitment to being a nation at the service of the international community.  The expansion of the Canal would be completed with the support of professionals and workers from Panama and other nations.  He noted further the importance of mediating disputes that prevented consensus and said, as host of the Summit of the Americas in 2015, the country was working to promote integration and social peace with equity and prosperity.

He stressed the need for elected officials to serve the people who had put them in office, calling politics “one of the strongest expressions of social service [as] the search for the common good”.  In that context, he expressed his commitment to a Government that would foster the economic growth enjoyed by Panama, while giving priority to public investment that impacted the life of all Panamanians.  With average domestic growth of 7 per cent, increasing foreign investment and a consolidated democratic system, the Government was making progress on the proposals that had won him the election.

Among its achievements were measures to curb speculation in the cost of food; the provision of adequate housing with appropriate water and sanitation; and major projects for youth, education, the elderly, public health and transportation, he continued.  In closing, he stressed Panama’s role as a bridge to attain understanding, stating, “We live in a diverse world with different cultures, religions and political systems, but we can always find common ground in the well-being of our citizens.”  That had been the formula for approval of the Millennium Development Goals, and would be key to fulfilling the post-2015 development agenda.

JOSEPH KABILA KABANGE, President, Democratic Republic of the Congo, said terrorism continued to claim the lives of people around the world, and Africa, formerly saved from its blind violence, was today its epicentre.  African nations, including Somalia, Libya, Nigeria and Kenya, among others around the world, were afflicted by that blight, which there was a moral obligation to eliminate.  African countries also saw their paths to development blocked by the recent Ebola outbreak, which had claimed the lives of more than 2,000 people, including 40 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Africa’s struggle against the disease was heroic, but States there needed support.  The entire human race was threatened by the disease and the international community’s “touching and effective” solidarity with Africa was a “beautiful example of human solidarity”, as compared to the “naked competition” seen in many other areas.  The outbreak was the seventh to strike his country, and he offered the benefits of 30 years of experience of Congolese health professionals to West African countries in need of it.

Wars were engulfing the Middle East, Ukraine, Syria, Libya and the Central African Republic, he said, recalling the aim of the United Nations to handle situations that were causing death and devastation.  He wondered why, so many decades after its establishment, the human race still seemed unable to preserve peace.  He promised Congolese help in preventing wars, noting that a Congolese contingent of peacekeepers was active in the Central African Republic.  Any impediments to implementing the post-2015 development agenda could be handled as long as there was political will and resolve to do so.

He looked back 13 years, when the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo had been bad, but added that things had improved significantly and the country was now standing tall again.  Peace was strengthening every day and the country had a dynamic economy, marked by low inflation, growth above the African average and constantly increasing reserves.  The country was being rebuilt at an unprecedented rate, with new roads, schools, and hospitals always under construction.  The Government’s priorities were strengthening democracy and national cohesion, and success was apparent.  Elections would be held under the auspices of an independent electoral commission and everything had been done to ensure that the country emerged from the balloting more at peace with itself and stronger.  Efforts would continue to re-establish peace in the country’s East and to improve relations with neighbours, he said, pointing to an improved business climate and stressing the importance of stability to achieving that.

With six of the world’s most dynamic economies in Africa and their rapidly growing populations and vast natural resources, he said it was “not normal” that the continent did not have a permanent seat on the Security Council.  It was high time that situation changed, he said, adding that such reforms were also essential prerequisites for improving that body’s effectiveness.

ROSSEN PLEVNELIEV, President of Bulgaria, cited the unprecedented floods that recently swept his country as an example of why climate change must be urgently addressed.  For its part, Bulgaria would actively support forthcoming negotiations aimed at reaching a legally binding climate agreement in 2015.

As we enter the critical phase of the post-2015 development debate, it was crucial that all sides remain committed to an “ambitious and forward-looking framework”, he said.  A transformative agenda would only be possible if we address the loopholes of the current Millennium Development Goals and build upon lessons learned.  The new goals should be founded on the principles of respect for human rights, good governance and the rule of law.  Youth-related targets on education, health and employment were also important.

Development was unthinkable without peace and security, he said.  The illegal annexation of Crimea undermined international order and was one of the most serious threats to peace and security in Europe since the Second World War.  The principles embodied in the Charter had been “shattered to pieces in a matter of weeks”, he said.  Bulgaria considered the annexation a violation of international law and voted in favour of General Assembly resolution 68/262 to support the territorial integrity of Ukraine.  Despite that, he welcomed the recent ceasefire agreement and expressed hope that forthcoming elections would provide the foundation for a democratic and prosperous Ukraine.

Human rights, democracy and the rule of law were at the heart of Bulgaria’s foreign policy agenda, he said.  That commitment was further strengthened by his country’s chairmanship of the Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee (Third Committee) during the sixty-eighth session of the Assembly.  His country would continue to promote human rights internationally and support the Secretary-General’s Human Rights Up Front initiative.  As a country that saved 48,000 Jews during the Second World War, Bulgaria was particularly concerned about recent anti-Semitic attacks taking place around the world, including in Europe, and condemned that recurring trend.

BUJAR NISHANI, President of Albania, said that peace, security and human values continued to be challenged in 2014.  In that context, he turned to events in South Sudan, stating that trust could be built only through a political, negotiated solution, where the rights of all communities were taken into account.  Albania, along with some 60 other Member States, had sought to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court, but that initiative had been vetoed in the Security Council, as had many others on the matter.  He emphasized that the perpetrators of atrocities in Syria must be held accountable.  The people of Syria deserved relief and justice.

Expressing concern at events in Ukraine, he said that a Permanent Member of the Security Council, the Russian Federation, had violated the sovereignty and territorial integrity of another country, thus undermining the Charter.  Although the Council had been unable to take action on the issue, the Assembly had voted overwhelmingly not to accept the annexation of Crimea and to support Ukraine’s territorial integrity.  The crises and disasters erupting around the world were also putting pressure on development.  There had nevertheless been successes towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals, and Albania had been an active participant in formulating the post-2015 development agenda, agreeing to test a proposed goal on governance and rule of law.  The transformative and inclusive sustainable development goals outlined in Rio in 2012 and the open-ended working group on sustainable development had produced a remarkable proposal on which to build.  He also applauded the finalization of standard operating procedures for Delivering as One and its action plan to simplify and harmonize them.

Terrorism was another high priority, which could only be met through collective action and a powerful response, he continued.  Condemning all terrorist acts committed in Iraq and Syria, he reported that Albania had joined the global coalition to defeat ISIS.  Noting that his own region was of geostrategic importance for Europe, he said Albania’s designation as European Union candidate would encourage intensification of domestic reforms.  He also expressed support for the overall development of Kosovo, the region’s youngest State, and for its territorial integrity in its current borders.  Dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia was facilitating European Union integration for both, he said, calling on all countries that had not yet done so to recognize Kosovo.

Turning to progress in his own country, he said that over the last two decades Albania had transformed from a totalitarian State to a functioning democracy, with progress most evident in the area of human rights.  The country offered a valuable model of respect for diversity, tolerance and coexistence for the Balkan region and beyond.  Its candidacy for the Human Rights Council, 2015-2017, was a logical consequence of the road it had taken to build a rights-based society, and membership would serve as impetus to further democratization.

JÁNOS ÁDER, President of Hungary, said, “If you want peace, you must prepare for war.”  He was not speaking about preparing for military conflict but about the war being waged on the natural environment.  The Secretary-General had described how dire the situation was at the recent Climate Summit and the General Assembly had heard many dramatic figures.  Awareness of a climate change problem went back to 1896, when a Swedish scientist had noticed that increases in CO2 levels would lead to increased temperatures.  Those changes were measured 60 years later, and 30 years after that, there was realization that a treaty would be needed to respond.  Kyoto had come a decade later, meaning it had taken a century between identifying the problem and beginning to respond to it.  Since Kyoto, there had been conferences, scientific meetings and political get-togethers, but despite promises, the situation continued to worsen.

Mother Nature continually gave warnings with its climate events, he said, pointing to floods, typhoons and other adverse meteorological events.  There were unprecedented freezing temperatures recorded in Uttar Pradesh in India during January, temperatures of 31 degrees Celsius in Lapland in May, a white Christmas in Bethlehem and 123 temperature records in Australia over a year.  In Europe, the River Danube drew attention — before the Second World War, it had flooded many times but never had reached 8 metres.  In the past four years, it had passed 8 metres four times, coming close to 9 metres in 2013.  In New York, Hurricane Sandy had caused $20 billion of damage and killed more than 40 people, despite consistent warnings by the New York administration that they needed to spend money to prepare.  That was why the Mayor of New York had announced his wish to reduce the city’s carbon emissions by 80 per cent in the next 30 years.

He recognized the work done by the Secretary-General in preparation for an agreement between States at the Paris summit in 2015.  The question was whether Member States were doing enough to prepare for the summit.  Having heard speeches made over the course of the week, he was not optimistic.  He pointed to political narrow-mindedness and asked why the wisdom of scientists and the planet’s signals were being ignored.  There was a good example of action that should instruct the international community, which came from the response to chlorofluorocarbon, or CFC, gasses.  Having been introduced in the 1950s, 30 years of use had led to a 40 per cent reduction in the ozone layer.  That had caused medical consequences in the form of increased prevalence of dermatological tumours.  A deal had been struck in Montreal in 1987 to ban the gasses, and the first report had recently been released, which pointed to regeneration of the ozone layer.

It was not possible to wait for an agreement on climate change and hope that would arrest and even reverse the problem, he said.  It was vital to reach agreement in Paris, but climate change was a much larger problem.  Nevertheless, the target States were hoping to agree to restrict temperature rises to just 2 degrees Celsius, but that already seemed to be an illusion.  The concentration of CO2 had never been higher, and scientists were saying that an accord today would not prevent effects in the future.  The world must come to terms with the idea that the next generation would have to live with the expensive price of past irresponsible environmental policies, and it had to prepare for more serious natural events and disasters.  Nicholas Stern had called for an investment of 1 per cent gross domestic product (GDP) on prevention to avoid environmental damage of up to 20 per cent of GDP.  Paraphrasing the Roman military author, Vegetius, he concluded:  “If you want calm, you must prepare for disasters.

ARTHUR PETER MUTHARIKA, President of Malawi, said that in May, the country had held its first ever tripartite elections, which had enabled Malawians to choose their political leadership through a democratic and peaceful process.  Despite a few challenges, the elections had been free, fair, transparent and credible.  In July, Malawi had commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of its independence.  Although it had made some strides in the diverse sectors of national development, more must be done to improve the living standards of many Malawians, who remained below the poverty line.

He said his country had always rendered political support for the disarmament of all weapons of mass destruction.  He was disheartened by the continuing violence and loss of life and property in the Middle East, owing to the conflict between Israel and Palestine, and believed that the two-State solution was the only viable path to lasting peace in the region.  He encouraged both sides to denounce violence, exercise utmost restraint, and employ dialogue to reach a political settlement.

Turning to the post-2015 development agenda, he was pleased that Malawi had been among those selected for national consultations.  His country was on track to achieving just four of the eight Millennium Development Goals and thus would proceed to the post-2015 era with unfinished business.  Inadequate resources were among the reasons for its failure to have achieved all the Goals.  Development partners’ commitments had been unpredictable and at times unfulfilled.  He added that the post-2015 development agenda should allow for some flexibility in implementation and should focus on the plight of disadvantaged groups, such as women, girls and persons with disabilities.

Regarding Security Council reform, he expressed his concern about its limited representation and said that only by expanding the number of its permanent and non-permanent members and including developing countries in both categories would its “legitimacy deficits” be solved.

BARON WAQA, President of Nauru, said that meeting today’s challenges required recognition that “we live in an interconnected world and the actions of one country or region impact the lives of people half a world away”.  Reckless actions by nations had severely undermined the marine environment on which small island developing States depended — for their culture, economy and food.  At the same time, some of the countries responsible for the damage were also charged with assessing the well-being of that environment. “How can we be confident that our interests will be protected?” he asked, when those who downplayed and sometimes covered up their own transgressions demanded greater transparency and accountability from developing countries.

He said that finding lasting solutions to such problems required examination of failures in the global order, which prevented countries like Nauru from accessing fair economic benefits from their own resources.  Unable to stand by while others decided what was best for them, parties to the Nauru Agreement were taking the lead in managing their tuna stocks through such measures as curbing illegal fishing and sustainable harvesting.  The current approach to problems, where a donor’s political interests determined aid priorities, failed to address the underlying “disease”.  What was needed was long-term in-country engagement backed by real resources that left behind durable nationally owned domestic institutions.

Commending announcements made by world leaders at the Climate Summit on planned actions by their countries and corporations, he nevertheless believed that many of those actions would occur under some future government and decade.  At the same time, small island developing States, who contributed only a fraction of global emissions, had undertaken to build sustainable economies and some of the most ambitious pledges to cut emissions.  Nauru, for example, was working to achieve a 50 per cent reduction by 2020.  In addition, the Pacific small island developing States had led the Assembly to formally recognize the connection between climate change and international peace and security in 2009, and the Security Council to do so in 2011.

In that context, he said that the Secretary-General should appoint a special representative on climate and security, and he should lead a joint task force of all relevant United Nations bodies to assess the Organization’s capacity to respond.  The Security Council must also reflect new geopolitical realities by becoming more representative and inclusive.  New members must be more geographically diverse and willing to broaden their vision beyond a narrow focus on domestic interests, for the good of all Member States.

TOMMY ESANG REMENGESAU, JR., President of Palau, said that his country, the Pacific region and the world had reached a crossroads.  In the International Year of Small Island Developing States, communities, societies, cultures and economies around the world were under attack as never before experienced on many fronts.  “We can continue business as usual,” he said, “or we can choose a different road, one that will enable our critical habitats a chance to recover and […] ensure their continued ability to sustain us.”  The Pacific region, whose people comprehended first-hand the real and present impacts of climate change, would not go down without a fight, he declared.

He recalled agreement by leaders at the Pacific Islands Forum that they must play a central role in the stewardship of the Pacific Ocean.  Among the efforts under way were the establishment of protected marine areas and work to launch negotiations by September 2015 for an international agreement under the Convention on the Law of the Sea for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.  He called on the United Nations to ensure a stand-alone sustainable development goal on oceans, and in that context, he warned against making the new goals too broad.  Targets must be realistic, simple, transparent and measurable, and focus on countries whose people were most in need.  Indeed, the time had come to complete the job on the Millennium Development Goals, improving the level and responsiveness of financing mechanisms and ensuring that they reached those who needed it.

Climate change was the planet’s silent war, he went on, adding that a temperature increase of 3.6˚C was simply unacceptable.  If that is the best that global leaders could do, “we might as well throw in the towel and stop having children, because there will be no future for them”, he said.  By the end of 2015, world leaders must announce new, realistic commitments and practical actions supported by enhanced financial commitment to both mitigation and adaptation, and ratification of the second amendment to the Kyoto Protocol.  Migration should not feature as an option in discussions, he said.  Quoting a speaker from the Marshall Islands at the Climate Change Summit, he said, “no one is moving, no one is losing their homeland, no one is becoming a climate refugee”.

Palau had committed to a 20 per cent contribution of renewable energy to the energy mix and a 30 per cent reduction in energy consumption by 2020.  Stressing the importance of global partnerships in the fight against climate change, he expressed gratitude to those who had assisted Palau.  In closing, he said:  “Without effective partnerships, change will simply not occur.  And without legally binding commitments towards our oceans and towards climate change, we will not make the transformative changes that we need to make in the next generation.”

JAKAYA MRISHO, President of the United Republic of Tanzania, said the unmet targets of the Millennium Development Goals should be factored into the post-2015 development agenda, while implementation of existing goals had to be sped up in the remaining days.  Financing the next agenda needed special attention.  Experience had taught that targets would be missed because of “unpredictable, unreliable, insufficient and untimely availability of resources”.  A mechanism to ensure stable, predictable and reliable financing for implementation was vital.  Next year was also the one in which a legally binding climate change agreement must be concluded.  The Climate Change Summit had offered a unique opportunity to deliberate on ways to save the planet from disaster, and he hoped it would lay the groundwork for the Lima Conference.  “Failure is not an option,” he declared.

He called for reform of the United Nations, noting reports that negotiations and consultations were not showing encouraging signs.  Expressing frustration on that front, he said momentum must be maintained and he called on the General Assembly President to use his good offices and diplomatic skills to revitalize the process.  There were several global threats to peace and security, including terrorism, illicit exploitation of natural resources, poaching, and the illicit trade in narcotic drugs and arms.  Concerning terrorism, many lives had been lost and people had been abducted or forced to flee.  It was imperative for all countries to play an active role in defeating Al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, ISIS and other terrorist groups.  The situations in Libya, Central African Republic and South Sudan also must be addressed.

Turning to the recent hostilities between Israel and Palestine, he said there had been “horrifying scenes of bombing and death of innocent women and children”.  Concerted efforts were needed now to ensure that the solution — two States living side by side harmoniously — was reached.  He reiterated his previous appeal concerning Western Sahara, urging resolution of the problem “once and for all”.  He could not comprehend how it remained unresolved, especially when compared to the situation in East Timor, which had emerged at around the same time, but had been addressed.  With that, he called on the United Nations to “put the Sahrawi question to rest”.  He also called for an end to sanctions and the embargo against Cuba, saying those guaranteed perpetual hardship and poverty.

Turning to the Ebola epidemic, he noted that 2,400 people had died, with no cure or vaccine.  The virus presented a major threat to neighbouring countries and beyond, and without success in controlling it, there was every danger it could become a global epidemic.  Collective efforts were needed, he said, insisting that the world had the technology, knowledge and financial resources to find a cure or a vaccine.  He applauded the efforts of the United Nations, WHO, United States and others, and requested continued and bolstered support to control the disease, particularly assistance to other West African nations to build capacity for surveillance, isolation and treatment.  Noting the stigma developing against the continent, he said tourism was crucial and must be protected.

STEPHEN HARPER, Prime Minister of Canada, said that his country had a strong record in serving humanity and upholding United Nations values, and on many occasions, Canadians had put their lives on the line for that purpose.  Today’s crises illustrated the role of poverty and injustice in war, but those were not the only causes.  There were affronts to human dignity and the international order, and Canada had always been ready and willing to partner with other civilized countries in combating them.  It would continue to assist its allies in the international community to deal with today’s grave challenges.

He said that any effort was in vain, however, if people were not provided with alternatives to a better way of life.  Trade and the effective delivery of aid had become the signature of Canada’s outreach to the world.  His country was proof of how trade had made “great nations out of small ones” and created new opportunities for ordinary people and their families.  The trade agreements reached by his country had helped to establish important links to world commerce.  While assistance to vulnerable countries was necessary for development, investment was needed even more to achieve sustainable growth.

Saving the lives of vulnerable mothers around the world should be another top priority, he said.  Despite remarkable progress in recent years, thanks to vaccines and other simple techniques, millions of mothers and children who would have died in the past now had a chance to survive.  He praised the Secretary-General’s Every Woman, Every Child initiative as it provided a clear path forward to prevent the deaths of children from easily avoidable causes.  New levels of excellence were achieved via partnerships that brought Governments together with the private sector.  With renewed political focus and financial commitment, saving the lives of children and mothers “is a fight we can win”, he stated.  Looking beyond the post-2015 development agenda, maternal, newborn and child health must once again become a top priority.  Canada was proud to financially support the Every Woman, Every Child initiative and invited other countries to do the same.

MARK RUTTE, Prime Minister and Minister for General Affairs of the Netherlands, said that in a summer already marked by alarming reports from Syria, Iraq and Gaza, his country was confronted with a stark international reality.  The 298 passengers of flight MH17 would be alive today if not for the Crimea conflict and the destabilization of eastern Ukraine.  Of the victims, 196 were Dutch nationals.  That tragedy had an immense impact on the country.  Entire families were ripped from neighbourhoods, desks were left empty in offices and schools, team-mates were gone forever.  The pain would be felt for years to come.  Some of the victims still had not been identified, and that must be done as soon as possible.  Nothing was more important to their loved ones, wherever they might be in the world.

This past summer, the world was reminded how interwoven world events could be at home and abroad, he said.  When it came to addressing the problems facing the global community, there was simply no alternative to working together.  He was grateful for Security Council resolution 2166 (2014).  The cause of the MH17 disaster must be brought to light, those responsible must be brought to justice and all remains and personal belongings needed to be repatriated.  Access to the crash site must be granted.  The events of the summer had made the Netherlands more resolute about promoting the international legal order.  Peace, justice and development were closely interconnected.

In 2015, the world would evaluate the Millennium Development Goals, he said.  The most important Goal was to eradicate extreme poverty within a generation in a way that did not harm economic growth, social equality or the environment.  Fragile States without stability had no chance of achieving the Millennium Goals.  He welcomed the Secretary-General’s initiative to establish the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), and the Netherlands would increase its humanitarian aid, including a contribution of €18 million to fight the disease.

He said that the role of women as positive change agents in society could not be emphasized enough, and that their leadership was essential for achieving peace and security.  Perpetrators of crimes that violated international law needed to be brought to justice, no matter how long the process might take.  That was owed not just to the victims of the crash of MH17, but to victims of violence in Syria and Iraq.  The Council must be able to act boldly and decisively.  The organ must be able to act in a crisis, and veto power should be exercised with greater restraint.  In that regard, he saluted the French initiative.  Further, African States were underrepresented on the Council, and the organ’s authority would be enhanced if Member States were more broadly represented.

QOHIR RASULZODA, Prime Minister of Tajikistan, said that the sustainable development goals could be achieved only if specific plans were complemented with the development of effective mechanisms for their review and realization.  Addressing issues of financing for sustainable development was equally important for achieving it.  Also important were global partnerships based on the Millennium Declaration.  In that regard, the activities of the Intergovernmental Committee on of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing was of key importance in order to set up a United Nations mechanism for promoting development and the transfer of technology.  As a “pilot” country in the United Nations for achieving the Millennium Goals, Tajikistan planned to carry out a comprehensive review of those goals’ implementation in 2015.

The Decade for Action “Water for Life” gave powerful impetus to various initiatives and efforts at different levels to promote access to fresh drinking water and sanitation, he said.  It would also serve as an introduction to integrated management of water resources, strengthen and expand water cooperation, and increase awareness of water-related challenges.

Global climate change, the increasing growth of economies and population, the degradation of water sources and the deterioration of water quality, all posed an additional challenge to the international community, he said.  The reduction of fresh water resources caused by climate change could present new obstacles towards achieving sustainable development, and he said a comprehensive review of the International Decade should develop recommendations to strengthen and renew the United Nations water agenda.  Access to modern and affordable energy service was also a priority, and Tajikistan was developing its own potential in that arena in a consistent and planned manner.  That included large-scale exploratory projects in wind and solar energy, which would hopefully contribute to a reduction of detrimental emissions.

He said that the international community must implement the United Nations global anti-terrorist strategy to address various threats, including the use of the Internet for the purpose of carrying out terror.  Illicit drug trafficking caused serious problems, and in recent decades, Tajikistan had gained much experience in combating it.  The Drug Control Agency had been successfully functioning for 15 years, and he attached importance to the coordination of efforts with Afghanistan in fighting drug trafficking and in other areas.  Afghanistan was facing new challenges, and expected targeted support from the international community.  With such support, that country would be able to address its upcoming difficulties.

Strengthening peace and stability in conflict and post-conflict situations required actual assistance in addressing economic and social issues, as well as the implementation of large-scale infrastructure projects and programmes, he said.  It would be impossible to resolve the issues facing the General Assembly without strengthening and reforming, rationalizing and renewing the entire United Nations system.  That would strengthen and enhance its capacity to respond to modern challenges and counteract modern threats.

KAY RALA XANANA GUSMÃO, Prime Minister of Timor-Leste, said that despite high hopes, the Millennium Development Goals had not delivered for fragile and conflict-affected countries.  The challenges facing those countries had only worsened along with the increase in conflicts around the world.  The United Nations had failed to achieve positive results, leading to an increased loss of trust and a crisis of values.

More than anything, it was important to understand the root causes of those issues, he said.  When faced with a threat that jeopardizes peace, it was vital to understand the interdependency of the issues in order to reach a consensus.  The use of military force would not establish universal values or build democracies.  As things stood, we were “sliding off into the darkness of war”, upholding outdated principles of an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, he said.  Collective efforts to preserve world peace and security must reject the actions of large Powers motivated by strategic interests.  The international community should prioritize mechanisms for resolving issues related to the exclusion, discrimination and marginalization of disadvantaged groups.

Having witnessed the near destruction of its country, Timor-Leste knew all too well the consequences of war, he said.  Instead of feeding hatred and vengeance, his country nurtured solidarity and tolerance, providing the foundation for political peace and a genuine reconciliation with Indonesia.  The country’s partnership with the United Nations in rebuilding had taught it important lessons, which it had shared with the world, particularly fragile States.  Timor-Leste was a part of the g7+ group of conflict-afflicted countries that sought to place their needs onto the global development agenda.

He voiced concern by the developments in the east and south of the China Sea.  That issue was of vital importance to Timor-Leste, and there was a pressing need to set maritime borders between countries in a clear manner and in line with international law.  Timor-Leste wanted to continue to believe in sovereign rights and international mechanisms such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, but it was weary of the intentions of big, multinationals that acted with “dishonesty and bad faith when dealing with poor countries”.  International conventions would be vital to rebuilding trust in the world system and in preventing tensions on that front from increasing.

ERNA SOLBERG, Prime Minister of Norway, said that leaders who gathered for the Climate Summit had taken important steps to mobilize action.  Now it was time to make sure that the positive results were followed through and expanded as the international community prepared for an agreement in Paris next year.  Achieving the eight Millennium Development Goals would create a solid foundation for sustainable development.  As the co-chair of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Millennium Development Goals advocacy group, she would use every opportunity to help build that foundation over the remaining 462 days until the deadline.

The Ebola epidemic in West Africa was a reminder of the fragility of progress and development, she said, urging the building of health-care systems to support courageous and determined individuals, such as the deputy nurse matron Josephine Findu Sellu, who lost 15 nurses to Ebola but who never stopped working in that “death trap”.  Education, particularly for girls, was a “superhighway” to ending poverty, which, together with discrimination and the use of force, often prevented girls from being schooled.  Specifically, sexual violence, abductions and deadly attacks were the most despicable violations.  She condemned the abductions of schoolgirls by Boko Haram in the strongest possible terms, and drew attention to Malala Yousafzai, saying if one schoolgirl could take on the Taliban, then surely the world community could defeat extremism and terrorism.  A girl child growing up in Syria today could not look forward to going to school, because there was no school to go to; and a pregnant teen in South Sudan would not get the maternal health services she needed because travel for health workers was risky.

On other matters of concern to Norway, she condemned the Russian Federation’s violation of international law and its continuing destabilization of eastern Ukraine.  Any settlement of the conflict must uphold international law and respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity.  The ceasefire needed to be respected, for which the Russian Federation bore particular responsibility.  While the Security Council was mandated to maintain peace and security, it had failed to effectively address the situations in Syria and Ukraine, because some big Powers still believed in outdated ideas of zero-sum games and spheres of influence.

International peace, national security, social development and individual prosperity could best be fostered under a system of democratic governance and human rights, she said.  The promotion and protection of human rights was first and foremost the responsibility of States.  However, the international community faced large implementation gaps.  Attacks, threats, intimidation and reprisals against human rights defenders were increasingly being reported.  Discrimination was widespread, particularly against minorities, such as indigenous people and lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender persons.  As the world set its future course beyond 2015, peace and stability must be included, climate issues must be addressed, and democratic governance achieved for the development of all.

ABDELILAH BENKIRANE, Prime Minister of Morocco, said sustainable development must strike a balance between requirements for social and economic progress and the protection of the environment on the one hand, and safeguarding of rights of future generations on the other.  His country had a distinctive development model rooted in the people’s culture and specific national values.  There also was a national initiative for human development and ambitious programmes in renewable energy, especially solar and wind power, which were key to sustainable development.

He said developing countries, especially in Africa, must be treated fairly and their development addressed objectively.  Ready-made prescriptions were not the route to sustainable development, for which there was no single model.  “What applies to the West” could not be the sole criterion for determining other development models.  Colonialism had been very damaging, as it had hindered development, exploited resources and changed customs and cultures.  It also sowed seeds of division within communities and between neighbours.  Colonizers bore a historic responsibility for that and had “no right to ask the countries of the South to introduce radical change rapidly”.  He appealed for more realism and wisdom in the international community, especially when dealing with such countries.  There should also be greater consideration for their circumstances and paths to democracy and development.

Nevertheless, he went on, some Western countries continued to hamper the progress of former colonies.  All that Western countries and their institutions did was give lessons and support that was usually conditional.  They asked countries of the South to achieve stability and development over a very short time, and according to very specific, imposed conditions, without accounting for their development processes or specific national circumstances.  There could be no stability without development, or development without stability; both rested on respect for sovereignty and customs, and territorial integrity.  Ratings and classifications of countries also raised many questions, as that process was far removed from the reality of countries of the South and could not give an objective account of their level of human development.  Nevertheless, aid given was often based on such ratings and their “quasi-impossible” conditions.

NATALIA GHERMAN, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and European Integration of the Republic of Moldova, said her country had chosen “a European future”.  She described agreements concluded with the European Union on trade and potential accession that could make the economy more competitive.  The focus was on strengthening democracy and the rule of law at home, fighting corruption, improving the investment climate and enhancing energy security.  Her country’s modernization efforts had been aided by partnerships and she pointed to a new pipeline connecting Moldova to the European Union’s gas network.  That project, along with other strategic infrastructure projects, would be implemented over the coming four years.

To realize national ambitions, citizens in Transnistria had to be included, she said, stressing the need for resolution of the conflict and the region’s reintegration into Moldova.  A political settlement was sought and international partners agreed on its basic principles.  Discussions needed to resume without delay within the 5+2 format.  The military of the Russian Federation had to leave the region and peacekeeping arrangements should shift from the current military operation into a civilian multinational mission.  Moldova’s relationship with the Russian Federation was marked by “unjustified trade restrictions” on agricultural exports but trade agreements with the European Union and Turkey would contribute to future diversification.  Events in Ukraine were of great concern and she would never recognize the annexation of the Crimea.  Respect for the United Nations Charter and international law was vital.  She described her country’s contributions to the United Nations, European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), including the deployment of 41 Moldovan soldiers in KFOR, the international peacekeeping force in Kosovo.

She said that Moldova had volunteered to provide a midterm evaluation on the Universal Periodic Review by October 2014, while a national strategic programme for demographic security for 2011-2025 was being developed.  Noting Moldova’s aim to become a regional centre of excellence in reproductive health, contributions continued to United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) objectives.  As well as sharing migration and development best practices with other countries in the European Union’s Eastern and Southern neighbourhoods, active engagement continued in the work of the Global Forum for Migration and Development.  Freedom of expression was important and her country had fast and affordable Internet connectivity that reached more than 65 per cent of the population.

PIERRE MOUKOKO MBONJO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cameroon, said that since 2010, his country had implemented a strategy for growth and employment aimed at poverty reduction.  The recovery of the economy and public finance, which had fostered the return of growth, augured good results.  But, however significant the progress, it had not eliminated poverty.  More remained to be done in education, health, access to water and electricity, and roads, among other areas.  A majority of developing countries experienced similar situations.  Accordingly, the post-2015 development agenda must not be viewed as an exogenous process, but as one that expressed the needs of target populations.  That was the common position of the African countries.

To that end, a mechanism would have to be put in place to follow up on the new system, and the delivery of ODA would have to be more efficient, he continued.  Furthermore, security must be assured, for without it, development was not possible.

He cited the deteriorating security situation in the neighbouring Central African Republic, which eliminated any hope of development.  In the north, attacks by Boko Haram, more interested in imposing Sharia law than improving the lot of the population, had driven thousands of displaced persons into his country.  While Cameroon would like to continue to host them, if the situation were to continue, the country’s means would simply not permit it.  He called upon the parties to find a peaceful solution, as Cameroon had done in its conflict with Nigeria over the Bakassi Peninsula.  That had enabled the two countries to resolve their disagreement in keeping with international law and to seal a friendship between them.

MANKEUR NDIAYE, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Senegalese Abroad, Senegal, called for a common vision on ways and means to strengthen commitments to build stable and inclusive growth.  Senegal’s model focused on wealth creation and structural transformation and the Plan for Emerging Senegal was a reference point for economic and social policies.  He praised the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and its focus on poverty, infrastructure and structural transformation and commended the work of its steering committee.

He described several international issues, including terrorism in the Sahel and West Africa, and the democratic transition in Guinea-Bissau.  Elsewhere in Africa, the Ebola epidemic posed a risk to the entire world.  He was reassured by the United Nations response in the form of its emergency mission and urged support for affected countries.  For its part, Senegal had established a secure aerial humanitarian corridor.  He reaffirmed his commitment to brotherly links between countries of the Maghreb and supported Morocco’s decision to grant a large degree of sovereignty to Western Sahara.  Stressing the importance of the International Criminal Court to restoring peace to countries in regular crisis, he noted the honour given to Senegal in the appointment of Sidiki Kaba as President of the Assembly of States Parties to the Court.  Senegal continued to contribute troops to peacekeeping operations, and the United Nations needed reform if it was to deal with the severe crises now facing the world.  He welcomed the French initiative to suspend the veto in cases of mass atrocities.

For information media. Not an official record.