Leaders Sound Alarm in General Assembly Debate on Unprecedented Mix of Challenges in Middle East, Taking ‘Terror to a New Era and a New Level’

GA/11563
26 September 2014

Leaders Sound Alarm in General Assembly Debate on Unprecedented Mix of Challenges in Middle East, Taking ‘Terror to a New Era and a New Level’

A geographically and sociopolitically diverse group of Heads of State sounded the alarm today about the unprecedented combination of challenges facing the troubled Middle East that was taking “terror to a new era and a new level”, as the General Assembly continued its high-level debate.

The President of Iraq said the “ISIS” attacks on innocent civilians had established a “State” based on hatred.  The terrorist group, with its huge financial and military assets, had committed crimes against humanity, inflicted suffering on the Iraqi people and was attracting militants and extremists from around the world, including the United States and Europe, he said.

A “terrorist onslaught” in Lebanon, said the country’s Council of Ministers President, was causing loss of military and civilian lives and considerable material damage.  The terrorists also obstructed the indirect negotiations conducted by his Government to calm the turbulent region.  The international mobilization against terrorist activities, however, reflected a global awareness of the urgent need to extinguish the “blazing flames” in the Middle East. 

Events unfolding in Syria and Iraq, he continued, also had caused unprecedented waves of displaced persons, and destabilized nations, divided societies and destroyed human and material resources.  The Syrian war had driven 1.5 million displaced persons into Lebanon, which was equivalent to one third of its total population.  That unbearable burden could not be borne by any one country, he said.

In that vein, the President of the State of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas, noted that following the last war on Gaza — the third in five years — about half a million people had been displaced.  The number of destroyed homes, schools, hospitals, public buildings, mosques, factories and even cemeteries was incalculable and represented a series of war crimes.  The idea that it was possible to return to past patterns, which repeatedly failed, was naive, and in any case, wrong.

Also examining the events crippling the Middle East was Malaysia’s Prime Minister, who said his Government had convened an international conference of scholars of Islamic law, where it had been agreed that for a State to be called “Islamic”, it must deliver economic, political and social justice, and it must advance the six objectives of Islamic law, namely, the right to life, religion, family, property, dignity and intellect.  “ISIL”, he said, had violated every single one of those.  It was therefore neither Islamic, nor a State.

The Prime Minister of Luxembourg echoed that point, saying that ISIL tarnished Islam and sought only to spread its terror to destabilize Syria, Iraq and beyond.  He reiterated support for measures aimed at cutting off financing, preventing radicalization and stemming the flow of foreign fighters, and he urged the world community to tackle the root causes of the grave crisis in Iraq. 

The world was witnessing a “globalization of hatred”, proclaimed Malta’s Prime Minister.  He urged a resumption of meaningful negotiations in the Middle East, as “too many innocent civilians have died; too many children have been buried”, and he called on the Security Council to act urgently and decisively to end the bloodshed in Syria.  Closer to home, he stressed more attention was needed to the plight of illegal immigrants in the Mediterranean.  Both Malta and Italy were doing their utmost to save lives, he said, but the States receiving waves of migrants could not stand up to the challenge alone. 

Adding to the day’s multifaceted debate was a Member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, who, noting the many events dedicated to the anniversary of the Sarajevo assassination, said Bosnians asked themselves whether they had learned the lessons from the past.  Regrettably, he said, given the local wars fought on all sides of the world today, it seemed the international community had not learned those lessons, but rather had repeated old mistakes and made new ones.

Serbia's President was one of several speakers referring to the benefits of European Union integration, noting that pursuit of membership was his country's top foreign policy priority.  The Prime Minister of Georgia also discussed efforts to establish European political, economic, social and legislative norms and standards, as part of an integration strategy.

Also speaking in the debate were Heads of State and Government of Namibia, Guyana, Cyprus, Lithuania, Côte d’Ivoire, Slovenia, Guinea, El Salvador, Congo, Samoa, Pakistan, Somalia, Haiti, Federated States of Micronesia, Dominica, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Comoros, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nepal, Belgium, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Speaking at the ministerial level were representatives of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Sudan, Guatemala, and Zambia.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of India, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.

The Assembly will meet again at 9 a.m. tomorrow, 27 September, to continue its debate.

Statements

HIFIKEPUNYE POHAMBA, President of Namibia, pointed to numerous crises confronting the international community, including several African countries facing an outbreak of Ebola; the 200 girls abducted in Nigeria; and Gaza having received “indiscriminate” bombardment, which had ended only 45 days ago.  Terrorist groups were disrupting peace and stability in different parts of the world.  But these challenges were not insurmountable.  The enduring values and principles of the United Nations Charter should guide the international community, as should the theme of the sixty-ninth session, “Delivering on and Implementing a Transformative Post-2015 Development Agenda”.

Reflecting on the Millennium Development Goals, their targets and implementation, he said that in his country, the percentage of people living in extreme poverty had been more than halved.  Communities that had previously been cut off from health care had now been reached, including those affected by HIV/AIDS; infection rates had stabilized and increasing numbers of affected people were receiving antiretroviral medication.  Namibia was moving closer to eliminating malaria as a public health threat, and access to clean drinking water and sanitation had also expanded.  In meeting the basic needs of human beings while protecting the natural environment on which people depended, the root causes of poverty and political conflicts in countries should be addressed holistically.

His Government had called for the implementation of the Plan of Action on climate change, and the Namibia Declaration, which had been adopted in Windhoek at the 2013 Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, he said.  Commending the Secretary-General for hosting the Climate Change Summit, he said that its outcome should complement the negotiations within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) with the ultimate aim of reaching a coordinated global agreement in 2015.

He also voiced concern about the “political instability” and armed conflict in South Sudan, Mali, and the Central African Republic.  On the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a range of measures needed to be implemented in order to consolidate peace.  Namibia supported women’s participation in peacekeeping and peacebuilding operations around the world, and had deployed one of the largest female police contingents to the African Union — the United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID).  The embargo on Cuba should be lifted, and the country should not be listed as a State sponsor of international terrorism.  All relevant United Nations resolutions on Western Sahara and Palestine should be fully implemented.

DONALD RABINDRANAUTH RAMOTAR, President of Guyana, said that despite the negative impact of the international financial situation, his country had grown its economy over the past eight years and ensured that it had resulted in an improved quality of life for its people.  They were one of only 17 countries in the world which had, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), not only reduced hunger by half, but also improved the nutrition of its people.  It had achieved universal primary education, and was close to achieving universal secondary education.  He expressed gratitude to all development partners who had contributed to the progress made towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

The world could have had advanced much further along the road to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, he said.  However, the partnership needed to achieve all the objectives had not been strong enough.  Support from developed countries, as envisaged by Millennium Development Goal 8, had fallen short of expectations.  Only about a dozen developed countries had kept their pledge to provide 0.7 per cent of their gross national product (GDP) to official development assistance (ODA).  In light of these failures, it was imperative that the post-2015 framework include a time-bound commitment for delivery of ODA to which commitments had already been made.

On the Middle East, he called for an end to the “apartheid-like” situation in Palestine, where poverty and degradation were weapons used to repress its people.  They had a right to live with dignity in their own country, and the United Nations must never compromise on the principle of self-determination.  Speaking on the continuing wars in Syria and Iraq, he condemned the “barbaric and grotesque” killings of journalists, humanitarian aid workers and other hostages, and the loss of lives of civilians by the murderous extremists.

He called the Ebola epidemic a global problem that required an immediate response of a scale far beyond what was currently being done.  Today’s problems could only be properly addressed with strong multilateralism and through relevant, responsive and more democratic global institutions.  Critical among those were the reforms of the Security Council and international financial institutions.  He concluded by recalling Guyana’s proposal to balance the interests of developed and developing countries.  Its time had come and should be pursued with other initiatives to find solutions, he added.

NICOS ANASTASIADES, President of Cyprus, recalled that, in last year’s General Assembly debate, he had expressed his concern about terrorism, annexation of territories via illegal use of force, religious fundamentalism and forcible displacement of millions of peoples.  Unfortunately, and despite international efforts, the global community had not adequately risen to meet those challenges.  What had been witnessed in Libya, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, particularly following the emergence of ISIL, should not leave delegates indifferent or passive.

Cyprus, which was located at the crossroads of Europe, North Africa and the Near and Middle East, was proud to be a European Union member State and enjoyed excellent neighbourly relations, which was why his country was “considered an honest broker with no hidden agenda”.  The discovery of hydrocarbons nearby had upgraded Cyprus’s strategic importance.  His country stood ready to mediate in bringing neighbouring hydrocarbon-producing and –consuming countries together, as energy could serve as a catalyst for broader cooperation and contribute to peace and stability.

Noting the fortieth anniversary of the violent division of Cyprus, he emphasized that it had been a consequence of the 1974 invasion and its continued occupation by Turkey.  He called for a settlement that would reunite Cyprus and its peoples, restore the fundamental freedoms and human rights of its lawful citizens and relieve the island from the presence of occupying troops.  That was based on an agreed upon compromise that Cyprus would evolve into a bicommunal, bizonal federation with political equality, a single sovereignty, a single international legal personality and a single citizenship.

Drawing attention to the 11 February Joint Declaration agreed upon by the two communities this year, he urged Turkey to constructively contribute to efforts to reach a settlement. “My ultimate vision is to relieve all Cypriots, especially younger generations, the future of the country, from the anachronistic burden of having to live in a divided country in which they are forcibly prevented from enjoying the freedoms that is the birthright of every citizen in the world,” he said.

DALIA GRYBAUSKAITĖ, President of Lithuania, said the nature of global security had changed dramatically, with non-State actors, religious fundamentalists and rebellious criminal gangs terrorizing the world and threatening the safety of peaceful people.  Sadly, some States were supporting terrorists and had become hubs and shelters for growing violence.

Peaceful and sustainable coexistence between countries and societies required collective efforts, determination and national commitment, she said.  As a group of nations, the international community must maintain undivided security and exert all its efforts to stop ISIS and Al-Qaida, and restore peace and security in the Middle East.  The same efforts should be directed to address the geopolitical challenges in Eastern Europe, and it was the international community’s duty to support peace, sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

Most importantly, she said, the international community must never abandon the values that held it together:  respect for human rights and the fundamental principles of State sovereignty and territorial unity.  Its ongoing commitment to protecting these core values was evident in voting results, at the United Nations, concerning the armed conflict in Ukraine, when 100 States had supported the Nation and condemned the Russian Federation’s occupation of Crimea.  A silent consent to such aggression should not be the response of the international community.

ALASSANE OUATTARA, President of Côte d’Ivoire, said that on a national level, implementation of the Millennium Development Goals was continuing within a national development programme.  Before the end of 2015, his country would take steps to further reduce poverty, improve maternal and infant health, consolidate progress on combating HIV/AIDS and expand access to primary education and drinking water.  The Millennium Development Goals had been a vehicle for his Government’s ambition, and at a time when the world we wished to see was emerging, there was a desire to give the most vulnerable people a decent life, give our planet reprieve and extend the opportunity to exist for centuries to come.

On the theme of the general debate, he noted that the priorities of developing countries should be paid particular attention, and that intergovernmental negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda must be inclusive and balanced.  Africa had become one of the most attractive regions of the world for international investment, providing unique opportunities in fields including infrastructure and energy, among others.  However, with the challenges which faced our world today, such as the spread of terrorism, piracy and Ebola, Africa now risked losing a decade of human progress and economic growth.

Africa could not become “the forgotten continent” in the struggle against terror, he said.  Thanking bilateral and multilateral partners that had assisted his Government, he conveyed special thanks to the people of the United States for “bold and outstanding” measures taken to assist West Africa in conquering Ebola.  On the issue of climate change, he noted that final efforts were needed to achieve an agreement in 2015.  Today his country was a nation at peace and work.  Côte d’Ivoire had regained the confidence of its partners, and thanks to the cohesion of its citizens, economic growth was strong.

BORUT PAHOR, President of Slovenia, said that, due to new circumstances, the existing structure of the United Nations, and the Security Council above all, was failing its fundamental purpose.  If the Organization was not reformed so that it could successfully cope with international conflicts, it risked being side-lined.  More and more often, deadlock in the Security Council was used as an excuse for resolving conflicts with force and without United Nations mandate.  Those deficiencies had to be remedied immediately, thoroughly and by consensus, or it might be too late.  “The third, and probably the last world war, could in many respects be the result of an obsolete and ineffective United Nations Organization”, he added.

He said international security architecture must be reconsidered in order to improve capacity to prevent and resolve conflicts, and reclaim the shared values and principles enshrined in the Charter.  Complementary to the United Nations, regional and subregional organizations, within their mandates and areas of expertise, must play a key role in maintaining peace and stability.  Although there were specific circumstances that could compel the international community to maintain peace by the use of force, a United Nations mandate was essential to ensure credibility.  If intervening without it became the norm, the world would certainly arrive at a point where arbitrary action could trigger conflict of broad and uncontrollable dimensions.

Next year’s twentieth anniversary of the genocide in Srebrenica should serve as a sober reminder of the responsibility to protect civilians in countries like Iraq, Syria, South Sudan and the Central African Republic, he said.  Slovenia supported the French initiative on voluntary restraint from the use of veto in situations of war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.  A comprehensive United Nations approach was also needed for the global threat of terrorism, extremism and militant radicalism that was emerging in the broader Middle East and North Africa.  Necessary reforms and renewed commitment to the United Nations principles were needed, as that was the only way to maintain global order based on international law.

ALPHA CONDÉ, President of Guinea, said that unless measures were taken to cope with challenges, the glimmers of hope around the world would be threatened, as would be the peace, security, and stability of our planet.  Only a global, concerted approach would lead to progress.  On that note, the Ebola crisis was continuing to claim lives, and on a national level, his Government had declared a health emergency to cope with the outbreak.  The negative impact of the disease was not confined to the health sector; Ebola had led to a slowdown in trade, a drop in productivity, a decline in tourism, and stigmatizing effects.  The irrational panic, which had taken over the world needed to be combatted.

Ebola was a serious epidemic, but it was not necessarily a death sentence.  Guinea welcomed the nomination of a United Nations system coordinator in the ongoing struggle against Ebola, and thanked the World Health Organization (WHO), Médecins sans Frontières, the Red Cross and political figures for their support.  There was an urgent need to move forward in fighting the disease.  On development challenges, the international community had to put an end to poverty which was continuing to hold nearly 2 billion people hostage.  That was a question of dignity, justice and equality.  While progress had been achieved on the Millennium Development Goals, the digital divide remained, and progress was needed on tackling malaria and HIV/AIDS-related issues.

The plethora of challenges required a comprehensive response.  For its part, Guinea was taking part in a dynamic process, having undertaken reform of the defence and security industry since 2010, and made improvements to the independence of the judiciary.  The country’s “thirst” to ensure the well-being of its population could only be quenched in an environment of stability.  Making its contribution to a reformed United Nations, Africa would have to shoulder its responsibilities.  It was time, he said, to be “genuine builders of our destiny”, and consolidate credibility in stabilizing the continent.  In conclusion, he noted Guinea’s solidarity with the Palestinian people.

SALVADOR SANCHEZ CERÉN, President of El Salvador, said that, in recent years, his country had achieved significant improvements in human development.  Extreme poverty had been reduced to 13.6 per cent in rural areas, and the Government had allocated 14.8 per cent of GDP to social spending.  Primary education coverage had increased to 93.7 per cent, reducing illiteracy by a little more than 5 per cent.  Additionally, maternal mortality had been significantly reduced, and improved sanitation and access to drinking water had been implemented.

On the new development agenda, he said it was critical to face the great threat of climate change, which triggered disasters and impacted people’s lives.  It was also urgent to amend existing financial architecture and international cooperation instruments so that they could respond to people’s needs efficiently and transparently.  The terms under which development assistance were granted should be renewed.  In that regard, he called upon the United Nations to maintain its resources and programs in Latin America, and specifically in Central America, regardless of the macroeconomic classification of the countries therein, stressing that a reduction in the Organization’s presence would only worsen economic and social problems in the region.

He went on to say that El Salvador had been raising awareness about the risks of irregular migration, especially to the United States.  However, the international community must help overcome the crisis generated by the increased flow of unaccompanied migrant children traveling to the United States, emphasizing that the Assembly must assume a more prominent role on the issue of migration, including it in the post-2015 development agenda.  The threat to public safety was another major challenge faced by his country, as it was for many others in the region.  He urged the international community to strengthen its support for El Salvador and Central America’s struggle against violence in all its forms.

He voiced deep regret about the loss of lives, particularly children, as a result of indiscriminate attacks in Gaza, and expressed concern about recent aggression from the self-proclaimed Islamic State against a defenceless civilian population.  As a proponent of human rights, his country had presented its candidacy to the Human Rights Council, which would hold elections during the current session of the Assembly.

DENIS SASSOU NGUESSO, President of Congo, said the world was in turbulence, with humankind facing numerous tensions and conflicts, terrorism, old and new epidemics, persisting disparities and climate change.  All that made people place their faith in the United Nations, the only instrument the world had to search for solutions to numerous problems.  He called on the States to prioritize action directed towards peace, security and the preservation of nature.  The world needed peace and security in places such as Syria, Ukraine, Iraq, between Israelis and Palestinians, as well as in Africa, especially in Libya, the Sahel-Saharan region, South Sudan, Central Africa and the Great Lakes region.

Africa needed increased support from the international community, he said.  That assistance was needed so that Somalia could escape the abyss, Mali could recover its unity, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo would not plunge again into violence.  The continent also required help to halt maritime piracy, developing dangerously in the Gulf of Guinea, and reduce the spread of terrorism from the Sahel to the south of Africa.  In Central Africa, insecurity was often not only the result of wars and armed violence, but of poverty and diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS and Ebola.  He was pleased by the solidarity shown by the international community in helping those African countries affected by the Ebola outbreak.

On climate change, he said that it was a major threat to the planet.  It was important for his country and Africa to establish mechanisms for transferring innovative technologies and finances, to ensure a real implementation of the Green Fund, to have a proactive climate change programme and to optimize existing opportunities in the fight against climate change.  The illegal exploitation and illicit trade of flora and fauna represented another threat to the biodiversity and environment, he added.

On the Millennium Development Goals, he said that the analysis by stakeholders at all levels had shown that they had not attained the objectives, inter alia, because of shortcomings in their initial preparation and formulation.  His continent would have the largest number of countries not attaining the Goals by 2015.  To meet those challenges, African leaders had adopted a joint position on the post-2015 development agenda.  He concluded by re-affirming his country’s commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights by strengthening its legal and institutional framework with the full participation of civil society.

MAHMOUD ABBAS, President of the State of Palestine, said that 2014 marked the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, but Israel had chosen to make it “a year of a new war of genocide perpetrated against the Palestinian people”.  While the Assembly conveyed the world’s yearning and determination to realize a just peace that achieved freedom and independence for his people in their State of Palestine alongside Israel, the occupying Power had chosen to defy the world by launching a war on Gaza.  He recalled that he had urged the world in 2012 to prevent a new Nakba by supporting the establishment of a free and independent State of Palestine.  “Here we are again today,” he said.

This war on Gaza was the third in five years, he said, noting that the difference today was the scale of genocidal crime was larger, and the list of martyrs, especially children, was longer.  Another difference was that about half a million people had been displaced, and the number of homes, schools, hospitals, public buildings, mosques, factories and even cemeteries destroyed was unprecedented.  It represented a series of war crimes.  It was inconceivable that anyone could claim that they did not realize the magnitude and horror of those crimes.  “We will not forgive, and we will not allow war criminals to escape punishment,” he declared, stressing his people’s legitimate right to defend themselves against the Israeli war machine and to resist the colonial, racist occupation.

Citing negotiations under the auspices of the United States, and in particular, the efforts of President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, he said that his Administration exercised “unimaginable self-restraint, silencing our cries and tending to our own wounds in order to give American efforts the best possible chance for success”.  Where do we go from here, he asked.  The idea that it was possible to return to past patterns of work, which repeatedly failed, was naive, and in any case, wrong.  That ignored the fact that it was no longer acceptable nor possible to repeat methods that had proved futile, or to continue with approaches that had repeatedly failed and required comprehensive review and radical correction.

At the invitation of Egypt and Norway, an international conference for the relief and reconstruction of the Gaza Strip would soon take place, he said.  His Government would present comprehensive reports to the gathering.  Over the past two weeks, Palestine and the Arab Group undertook intensive contacts with various regional groups in the United Nations to prepare for the introduction of a draft resolution to be adopted by the Security Council on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, pushing forward efforts to achieve peace.  That endeavour aspired to correct the deficiency of previous efforts to achieve peace by affirming the goal of ending the Israeli occupation and achieving a two-State solution, of the State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, over the entire territory occupied in 1967, alongside the State of Israel.

NEBOJŠA RADMANOVIĆ, Member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said the world was in a state of chaos.  From Afghanistan through Ukraine, the Middle East, Libya, Central Africa and other regions, there were armed conflicts without lasting peace in sight.  The rise of internal civil conflict was causing States to fall apart, with some disappearing overnight, and others springing up with the support of outside mentors.  New political maps were being drawn with new borders, separatist movements were getting stronger and international laws were being violated with use of force.  That situation, he said, was a result of the unilateral actions of some great Powers, double standards in international relations, and other actions contrary to the norms of international law.

Bosnia and Herzegovina, although characterized by an open and fully liberal economy, was facing large-scale unemployment, a large trade deficit, lack of capital and major investment, and insufficient and weak industrial production, he said.  Its economic reconstruction and recovery had slowed down due to the global economic crisis that had engulfed the world.  He called upon the developed world to help his country’s efforts in sustainable development, noting that Bosnia and Herzegovina was too small a country to achieve that alone.  He expressed hope that small countries who shared that view would find more partners among the developed countries with which to focus on development and recovery.  Tomorrow’s world should not be put in the position of a “false choice” between who should and should not be saved, he said, stressing that, “either we all survive or nobody does.”

This year, his country marked the Sarajevo assassination, commonly viewed as the immediate cause of the First World War, he said.  At several events dedicated to that anniversary, the people of his country had asked themselves whether they had learned the lessons of the past.  Given the local wars fought on all sides of the world today, it seemed the international community had not learned those lessons, but rather had repeated old mistakes and made new ones.  Now more than ever, the world needed peace; it was only through peace that people could develop and prosper.  It was Member States’ responsibility to improve security in the world in the interest of development and progress.

TUILAEPA SAILELE MALIELEGAOI, Prime Minister of Samoa, said that climate change was an urgent crisis, which dwarfed all others.  Its victims could be rich or poor countries, big or small, he said, rejecting the view that its implications were looming in only certain State.  He rebuffed complacency by any country, saying all must work together as “a single constituency”.  Time was slipping away, and the international community would be soon playing catch-up.  Upcoming Lima and Paris conferences on climate change offered the best opportunity for the world to save itself.  The recent summit had been timely and its message clear: without action, the situation would worsen.  Climate change was a societal problem, which required political will and a societal response.  Also vital was to find a global solution, and the United Nations represented the best hope for doing so, he said, stressing the importance of reaching a post-Kyoto agreement.

Turning to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, he said the crisis respected no national borders, indiscriminately claiming victims.  Samoa was among the 134 co-sponsors of a Security Council resolution on the spread of the virus.  Council action had been followed by a General Assembly resolution to establish a United Nations Mission for Emergency Ebola Response.  That was a powerful demonstration of what could be achieved when nations united.  That spirit of cooperation should prevail when dealing with other critical issues.  On extremism, he said that phenomenon seemed so far removed from Pacific island States, but due to global interconnectedness, those States could be exposed to risks as well.

The United Nations had been founded on collective security, he said, describing that principle as important to small islands, whose development gains could be erased by security events.  Small island developing States needed the United Nations special attention owing to their inherent challenges, which were outside their control.  Three weeks ago, his nation had hosted the third international conference on small island developing States (SIDS), successfully casting a global spotlight on their issues, which should not be forgotten with the passage of time or overshadowed by other competing issues.  The follow-up to the meeting’s outcome was on the General Assembly’s agenda for this session.  The outcome text, known as the Samoa Pathway, asked the Secretary-General to undertake a comprehensive review of how the United Nations could best support small island developing States.  “We may be small and invisible, but a united SIDS is strong,” he declared, underscoring that implementation of the Samoa Pathway must be solidly entrenched in the post-2015 development agenda.

MOHAMMED FUAD MASUM, President of Iraq, calling ISIS a real danger, said that group's attacks on innocent civilians had taken terror to a new era and level, establishing a State based on hatred.  With its huge financial and military assets, it had committed crimes against humanity, inflicted suffering on Iraqi people and had become a hotbed, attracting militants and extremists from around the world, including America and Europe.  His Government had successfully liberated some cities that had been occupied by the terrorist organization, owing to the huge humanitarian and military support received from the United Nations, United States, the European Union and other friendly States and for which he was grateful.  Such support confirmed that his country was not fighting terror alone.

Drawing attention to millions of defenceless civilians who had been forced to live under the tyranny of ISIS, he called upon the international community to provide protection, relief and support for his country's efforts.  The Iraqi people were determined to cleanse their land of the armed group, he said, stressing that eliminating terror in their country would be an important step in ridding the world of danger.  He called for the institutionalization of “that responsible position” against terrorism and for such an institution to be tasked with developing and operationalizing solidarity to fight terrorism.

Pained to see the suffering of their fraternal Palestinian people in Gaza and other Palestinian territories, he also called upon the international community to honour its commitment to the Palestinian people and exert efforts to restore peace.  As well, he said he wished those in Yemen and Libya success on their path to democracy and voiced hope that the Syrian people would be able to overcome this crisis, unite to end bloodshed and preserve life and democracy.  Continued tension would always support extremism and tyrannical ideology.  As such, the international community could not allow an exacerbation of that conflict.

Turning to the results of the Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, he said the question of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations did not occupy the space it deserved in the report.  It could have addressed the challenge as its own objective, looking to its causes and ways to address it.  Recalling that people around the world were still promoting partnership and enhancing prospects for peace and security, he said there was no other option but to defeat ISIS everywhere, as well as other elements that continued to threaten the international community.

XAVIER BETTEL, Prime Minister of Luxembourg, said that “commitment, solidarity and responsibility” would continue to guide his country's action at the United Nations, which was at the heart of multilateralism.  As for a transformative post-2015 development agenda, he highlighted the session’s theme and said the new framework must be bold and ambitious if it was to live up to its collective responsibility to eradicate poverty and promote sustainable development.  It must also build on the Millennium Development Goals and go further.  The agenda, he continued, must be holistic, action-oriented, universally applicable, benefitting both developing and developed countries, and human-rights-based.  Emphasis on the social sectors, including health and education, must include issues of governance, justice, peace, security, environmental protection, sustainable consumption and production patterns, as well as sustained economic growth.

Since 2000, he said, Luxembourg had belonged to the group of five industrialized countries, which devoted at least 0.7 per cent of gross national income (GNI) to development cooperation.  In 2009, Luxembourg’s development assistance had reached 1 per cent and the Government was committed to maintaining that high level.

The Climate Summit, he said, had fulfilled the dual objectives set by the Secretary-General: to harness the indispensable political will to reach a global agreement in 2015 and catalyse concrete action on the ground to reduce emissions and increase resilience.  During the second half of 2015, his country would assume the presidency of the European Union Council, and in that role, would spare no effort to find, at the Paris Climate Conference, an international agreement on climate, with the objective of keeping the increase of global temperature below 2°C.  With European partners, his country had made binding commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and at the recent Summit, had supported carbon pricing.  It had also announced a new contribution of 5 million euros to the Green Climate Fund.

Turning to his country's role in the Security Council, he said that Luxembourg, together with Australia and Jordan, had tabled two resolutions on humanitarian aid access to Syria, which had been adopted unanimously.  Yet, humanitarian action was no substitute for political action.  On extremism, he said that ISIL was neither a State nor Islamic.  It tarnished Islam and sought only to spread its terror regime to destabilize Syria, Iraq and beyond.  Luxembourg fully supported measures to counter individuals and entities associated with Al-Qaida, such as those aimed at cutting off financing, preventing radicalization and stemming the flow of foreign terrorist fighters.  Beyond the fight against terrorism, the global community must tackle the root causes of the grave crisis in Iraq.  In that context, he welcomed the formation of a new Iraqi government of national unity.

MUHAMMAD NAWAZ SHARIF, Prime Minister of Pakistan, said that extreme weather was disrupting world economies, particularly in developing countries.  Recent monsoon floods in his country had killed hundreds of people, displaced millions, and destroyed and damaged homes, livelihoods, infrastructure, cattle and crops.  The Government was mobilizing all its resources and ingenuity to provide relief and ensure recovery.  He called on the international community to intensify its efforts to move from awareness to commitments on actions addressing climate change.

Pakistan had launched its “Vision 2025”, which put people first, he said.  In the coming decade, it would develop human and social capital through investment in education, health and gender parity; stimulate sustained economic growth; prioritize energy, water and food security; modernize the public sector; and encourage sector-led entrepreneurship.  His Government would also pursue a policy of constructive engagement and remain engaged in the dialogue process needed to settle disputes and build economic and trade relations.

More than six decades ago the United Nations had passed resolutions to hold a plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir, he said.  However, the people there were still waiting for the fulfilment of that promise.  Many generations of Kashmiris had lived under occupation, accompanied by violence and abuse of their fundamental rights.  It was the responsibility of the international community to resolve the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, he underscored, reaffirming Pakistan’s readiness to work for a resolution of this problem through negotiations.

Afghanistan was going through momentous security, political and economic transitions, he continued, voicing hope that these landmark processes would result in a stronger, more stable and unified country.  Condemning terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, he called on the United Nations to facilitate a just and lasting solution of the Palestinian issue.

As a responsible nuclear weapon State, he said, Pakistan would continue to support the objectives of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and pursue a policy of nuclear restraint and credible minimum deterrence.  To promote stability, it was prepared to explore new confidence-building measures, he added.  He also said that, in regard to the reform of the Security Council, there should be no new permanent seats on it; instead, the body should become more representative, equitable, accountable and transparent.

JOSEPH MUSCAT, Prime Minister of Malta, highlighted the need for the resumption of meaningful negotiations in the Middle East.  “Too many innocent civilians have died; too many children have been buried,” he said.  Statesmanship was needed from the politicians on both sides to resolve the conflict.  Negotiators must be willing to make the right choices, not the most convenient ones.  They might not be the most popular, but they would be the most enduring.  Concerning Syria, he urged the Security Council to assume its Charter-based responsibilities and act urgently and decisively to end the bloodshed.  Regarding Libya, the United Nations must provide capacity-building and security to bring stability and prosperity to the Libyan people.  Disarmament and national reconciliation were prerequisite to the country’s advancement, he added.

Moving on to the spread of extremism and intolerance, he said the world was witnessing the “globalization of hatred”.  Extremists were increasingly interconnected through networks and inventions whose main aim should be progress and education.  Disenchanted youth were radicalized into movements that knew no limits.  He stressed that nobody was immune to what was undoubtedly the biggest threat to world stability and peace.

He also called for more attention to the plight of illegal immigrants in the Mediterranean.  Both Malta and Italy were doing their utmost to save lives, but the States receiving waves of migrants could not stand up to the challenge alone.  He therefore urged the international community to help them stop the great human tragedies that came with the risky crossing of the Mediterranean.  Closer cooperation between countries of origin, transit and destination was needed, as were better enforcement mechanisms and stronger penalties to stop and punish human traffickers.  Better implementation of internationally agreed upon commitments was also crucial, he added.

TAMMAM SALAM, President of the Council of Ministers of Lebanon, voiced concern at the “terrorist onslaught” his country was facing from “obscurantist and criminal groups”, which had attacked various Lebanese regions causing loss of military and civilian lives and considerable material damage.  Those crimes had obstructed ongoing indirect negotiations conducted by his Government in the turbulent region.  The present international mobilization against terrorist activities reflected a global awareness of the urgent need to extinguish “blazing flames” in the region.  Noting that Lebanon’s fight against terrorism was not new, he said he looked forward to unveiling the truth, ending impunity, and ensuring justice was served through the work of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

The events unfolding in Syria and Iraq represented human crimes that could not be understood or accepted by any mind or religion, he continued.  Committed in the name of Islam, they had cost the lives of tens of thousands of Muslim civilians and had caused unprecedented waves of displaced persons, while destabilizing nations, dividing societies and destroying human and material resources.  Noting the attacks against Christians and Yazidis in Iraq, he said that any offensive against religions or their followers and sacred places was an offensive against human dignity.  His country had the only Christian president in the Middle East and despite political crises, Lebanon remained a model of diversity in the region.

The Syrian war had displaced 1.5 million Syrians into Lebanon, equivalent to one third of its total population, he said.  That had been placing an unbearable burden on economic, humanitarian, social, education, health and security systems.  Due to the regional situation, national economic growth had dropped to zero, causing the country a loss of $7.5 billion.  It was a national disaster.  The burden of Syrian refugees could not be borne by any one country, but must be shared.  Expressing concern for the unity, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Syria, he reaffirmed his Government’s policy of “self-distancing” to protect Lebanon against the repercussions of neighbouring crises.

He continued to appeal to the international community to compel Israel to fulfil its obligations under Security Council resolution 1701 (2006), to stop violating Lebanese sovereignty by land, sea and air, cooperate fully with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and withdraw from the area north to Ghajar, the Shebaa Farms and Kfarshouba Hills.  Further, he reaffirmed Lebanon’s rights to territorial waters, and to the natural oil and gas within its exclusive economic zone.  He also called for legal accountability for war crimes committed by Israel, including in Gaza, underscoring that Israel was responsible for foiling all efforts to reach a peaceful settlement based on a two-State solution.

The Levant today provided an ugly platform where the latest form of human savagery was on display, he said.  The region, however, was made up of ordinary people with land, homes, tales, dreams and history, eager to live as free and equal citizens in free and stable countries.  “The world must stop counting our dead, and must rise to its obligation and seek to establish peace in this tormented part of the world,” he stated.  That peace must be based on right and justice, while respecting the sovereignty of nations, upholding their security and safeguarding the fundamental rights of individuals and groups.

DATO’ SRI MOHD NAJIB BIN TUN HAJI ABDUL RAZAK, Prime Minister of Malaysia, said his country had contributed more than 20 million rubber gloves to help doctors and nurses who were working to stop the Ebola outbreak.  On other matters of interest to his country, he said the MH370 and MH17 tragedies would be remembered forever; his Government would not give up the search for MH370 and would continue to seek justice for those who had died in the downing of MH17.  He recalled that, four years ago, in the General Assembly, he had called for a global movement of moderates to counter extremism.  “The threat to world peace and security is not Islam, but extremism,” he said.  The question had been how to respond to it.  In the past, the international community had launched wars against it without planning for peace.  It had attacked one evil only to see a greater evil emerge.  “This time must be different,” he said, stressing the need to defeat not just extremists, but also their ideas.  True Islam must be promoted.

Malaysia, he said, had marginalized extremism, maintaining a multi-religious country, where different faiths coexisted and prospered, and showed that Islam could not only succeed, but drive progress and development in a pluralistic society.  In Malaysia, there were streets in which mosques, temples and churches stood side by side.  This moderate approach could make a valuable contribution to fragile States and international affairs alike.  It was a philosophy Malaysia used when acting as an honest broker in peace processes in the southern Philippines and elsewhere.  Malaysia would pursue that approach as it chaired the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) next year and moved it forward at the United Nations in the coming weeks.  That work informed its bid for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council for the coming term.

The fight against extremism was not about Christians versus Muslims, or Muslims versus Jews, but moderates versus extremists of all religions, he continued, emphasizing the need to rally a coalition of moderates.  The fight against extremists must be won, not just in Syria and Iraq, but in the United Kingdom, Belgium, the United States and Malaysia.  His country had managed to prevent extremism from gaining a foothold, but a few Malaysians had been lured by foreign terrorist fighters into Iraq and Syria.  Countries must educate, include and confront those at risk of radicalization.  They must also confront the myth that committing atrocities in the name of an Islamic State was an act of faith and that death in the service of that aim brought martyrdom.

Extremists used that distorted narrative as a recruitment tool, he pointed out.  An international conference of scholars of Islamic law, convened by his Government, had agreed that for a State to be called “Islamic” it must deliver economic, political and social justice, and must protect and advance the six objectives of Islamic law: the right to life, religion, family, property, dignity and intellect.  ISIL had violated every single one of those.  It was neither Islamic, nor a State, he concluded, stressing that Islam was a religion of peace, one that valued coexistence, mutual comprehension and learning.  

HASSAN SHEIKH MOHAMUD, President of Somalia, said his country was no longer a country of war, piracy, extremism, famine, droughts and floods.  It would no longer be known through films like Captain Philips or Black Hawk Down.  Focusing on such descriptions meant missing “the beauty of a very different picture that we are painting right now in Somalia”, he said, adding that his country “may still be fragile, but we are no longer broken”.

A new Government had been established in September 2012, he said, pointing to the national consensus that underpinned it and the unanimous recognition it enjoyed in the international community.  The Government faced many complex challenges, including a lack of resources and only very basic institutional and Government structures.  The country was divided, without a clear path to unification, and Al-Shabaab controlled a lot of territory.  Meanwhile, there were high expectations about security, political inclusivity, health, education, private sector development and basic economic reform.  Nonetheless, the future’s foundation was being laid through the clear military defeat of Al-Shabaab by the joint efforts of the Somali National Army and the African Union mission.  More than 70 per cent of south and central Somalia was now under Government control.

The Government’s focus was on “building a foundation and laying down the groundwork for stabilization and ensuing reform”, he said, describing progress in legal, political, financial, economic and social fields.  Somalia had cemented its place in the international community, strengthening relations with its neighbours and establishing forums for dialogue.  Key financial institutions were being established to provide accountability and control, and he was heartened by the progress “from failed State to a nascent, functioning State”.  It was vital to stay the course, however, and Somalia was at a critical point in achieving stability and security.  Terrorism was rising around the world, but Somalia had significantly advanced its fight against the scourge.  Military solutions were not enough and dialogue, reconciliation and forgiveness were the tools needed for peacebuilders and nation builders.

He noted the strategic location of Somalia as the gateway between the Arabian peninsula and the African continent.  Defeat of Al-Shabaab could not be met with other extremist groups finding fertile ground in the country.  Somalia needed to be strengthened to prevent another invasion by violent extremists who spread an ideology of death.  People had to be allowed to determine their own future and to benefit from proper application of the rule of law and human rights.  Vision 2016 aimed to deliver peace and sustainable security, outlining federalism through reconciliation, adoption of a revised permanent Constitution and the path to elections.  Noting progress made, including completion of the Constitution Review and Implementation Commission, adoption of the Provisional Federal Constitution and work to create a Boundaries and Federation Commission and National Independent Electoral Commission, he said “we must not fail to deliver on our ambition”.

The Somali National Forces had been an important component to defeating Al-Shabaab, he stressed.  The humanitarian situation remained critical, though, with 3.2 million needing immediate assistance and conditions approaching the seriousness of the horrific famine of 2011.  A million people were displaced and a sustained and scaled-up response was required to prevent “free fall”.  The humanitarian appeal remained underfunded, receiving only 32 per cent of what had been requested.  With such recorded progress, it was vital to address the problem; otherwise, those many gains could be eroded.  Continued success required international support, alongside the commitment and ownership of the Somali people.  “This is not the time for scepticism,” he stated.  Democratization and reconciliation would be reached through dialogue, inclusive politics and building of a shared vision on the country's future.

TOMISLAV NIKOLIĆ, President of Serbia, said that climate change was one of today’s most urgent global challenges.  The effects of natural disasters had strained the fragile economic situation in Serbia, along with the rest of South-Eastern Europe, and made the struggle against poverty ever more difficult.  Initiatives aimed at alleviating the effects of climate change were imperative, particularly those targeting underdeveloped nations.  With the Climate Change Conference in Paris approaching, there was a unique opportunity this year to devise policies that would lay the groundwork for substantive global action.  An important mechanism in the implementation of that process was the Green Climate Fund, which, by 2020, would achieve its ambitious fund-raising goal.

In terms of national priorities, Serbia was seeking to achieve a political solution to the question of Kosovo and Metohija, he said.  For Serbia, the only acceptable and fair solution to that issue was to reject secessionism and preserve the territorial integrity of all countries.  Through dialogue with representatives of the Provisional Institutions of Self-government in Pristina, Serbia was committed to reaching a political agreement that satisfied all parties.  The normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina could be largely attributed to the European integration process.  With its active engagement, the European Union could encourage compliance with the obligations outlined in the Brussels Agreement, and help strengthen mutual trust.  For its part, Serbia had met all of its commitments and was open to continued dialogue with Pristina, at all levels.

A key factor in the normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina, he said, was the return of internally displaced persons.  The world must not forget that Serbia was the country with the largest number of internally displaced persons in Europe, an amount totalling 230,000, including 58,000 refugees.  Today, 15 years after the adoption of Security Council resolution 1244 (1999), the conditions for the return of internally displaced persons to Kosovo and Metohija had not yet been created.  The plight of refugees deserved special attention, he said, deploring the serious problems facing those vulnerable persons.  Any decisions made by the United Nations on the issue must not undermine the reconciliation process, or the fundamental right of Serbs to return to their homes in Kosovo and Metohija, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Serbia’s top foreign policy priority was membership in the European Union, he said, as that would help modernization and economic development in his country.  In turn, Serbia endeavoured to be a respectable member of the family of European nations.  It was preparing to preside over the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) next year, a role through which it aimed to strengthen mutual cooperation and encourage reconciliation in the Balkans.

MICHEL JOSEPH MARTELLY, President of Haiti, underscored the productive negotiations with the Dominican Republic towards resolving issues and misunderstandings that were over half a century old.  The voluntary discussions had resulted in agreement on some issues that previously had not been so easy to resolve.  Because negotiation and peaceful resolution of disputes were crucial and the United Nations was vital to the maintenance of peace, enlightened voices had to continue that work, and reform of the Organization was an important aspect of that.  The Security Council was in need of new members, particularly as inclusion was a central part of the Charter.  Its legitimacy and credibility depended on its ability to act efficiently and rapidly while recognizing the value that each individual State added.  That was particularly important in crises like disease outbreaks, and he singled out Cuba for its efforts to unite countries to respond to nations affected by Ebola.

The people of Haiti were at a key moment in their march towards stability and implementation of democratic institutions, he went on to say.  After two decades marked by catastrophes of all types, there had been irrefutable progress in the previous three years on democratic consolidation, institution-building, poverty eradication and human rights protection, during which time sustainable growth and development was simultaneously proceeding.  The road ahead was long, but the obstacles surmountable.  The security situation had improved thanks to many Government efforts to strengthen national peace, and Haiti was now one of the most secure States in the Caribbean.  In light of that, he called for the continued, progressive withdrawal of United Nations troops, with Haiti's police filling many roles previously held by United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).

Describing progress made, he said that 5 per cent of GDP had been dedicated to education, with expanded free access to primary education.  Work to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and efforts against AIDS, malaria and sexually transmitted infections were ongoing, with more health centres available.  Infant and maternal mortality had been reduced, and many buildings vital to the health infrastructure had been built or rehabilitated.  He urged a decisive commitment from the United Nations on cholera, calling for contributions to the national plan to eradicate the disease.  Important economic reforms were being instituted to improve the business environment, while the increased flows of capital and tourists to Haiti illustrated the improving economic climate.

Free elections would be held as soon as possible, he said, noting his own role in guaranteeing the stability of institutions.  He had spared no effort in finding consensus between organizations and institutions involved in arranging elections.  Awaiting the summit on Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, he expressed his administration’s confidence in the goals.  Resources were available and the challenge was finding a just and equitable way to share them.  His country would contribute and the United Nations had to be strengthened to better complete the mission.  That could form the basis of a mission to improve security and solidarity and to secure peace worldwide.

EMANUEL MORI, President of Micronesia, underscored that the small island developing States had brought the issue of climate change to the attention of the United Nations 30 years ago.  Others could speak of that as a future threat, but small island developing States were already facing the impacts, which were worse than science had predicted.  A small increase in sea-levels would be a catastrophe for the atolls in Micronesia.

For small islands to survive, he continued, the Alliance of Small Island States advocated for limiting global warming well below a 1.5˚C increase above the pre-industrial temperature.  That required immediate action from all stakeholders, he stated, voicing support for the World Bank initiative on carbon pricing.  Micronesia had also proposed an amendment to the Montreal Protocol to phase down the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons, which, along with reduction of other short-lived climate pollutants, could reduce the rate of sea-level rise by 25 per cent, giving the atolls a chance to survive.  He called on world leaders to adopt the proposed amendment.

The best small island nations could do on the ground was to anticipate and adapt to climate change and install disaster risk reduction and response policies, he said, which Micronesia had done.  He further stressed the critical importance of implementing the Samoa Pathway, to stimulate sustainable development in small island developing States through durable and genuine partnerships.  Endorsing the proposed Sustainable Development Goals, he also called on development partners to assist in the implementation of Micronesia’s national energy policy.

Regarding oceans and fisheries, he said foreign vessels, which enjoyed unprecedented returns from harvesting his country’s exclusive economic zone, must help maintain the health, productivity and resilience of the ocean, and fairly compensate Micronesia for the value of its resources.  Further, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing must be stopped.  Widespread cooperation and support was also needed to tackle the leading cause of death in the Pacific, non-communicable diseases.  He further urged the establishment of a “One UN” approach for the North Pacific.  The current United Nations Joint Presence in the region must be made more efficient at the country level.

Noting that the United Nations target for ODA was 0.7 per cent of GDP for development assistance, he said that most developed nations fell far short of that goal.  He made an urgent call for delivery of real money from the major economic Powers who were also the major polluters.  He also looked to development partners to accelerate implementation of the country’s new telecommunications system.  In addition, it would be inconceivable to have a reformed Security Council without permanent seats for Japan, Germany, Brazil and India, as well as representation from Africa.

CHARLES ANGELO SAVARIN, President of Dominica, said that 20 years after the adoption of the Barbados Programme of Action and 10 years after the approval of the Mauritius Strategy for Implementation, most of the commitments made to help promote sustainable development in small island developing States had not yet been delivered.  Hopefully, the outcome of the recently concluded third United Nations Conference on Small Island Developing States would create a new impetus to address those implementation gaps.  That Conference had established the “SIDS DOCK”, an initiative to create a global organization for the development of sustainable energy for those States.

Fifteen years after the Millennium Declaration, only a few in the developing world had registered tangible gains, he said, adding that the majority continued to wait for the promised improvements in their living conditions.  However, Dominica had been able to achieve most of the Millennium Development Goals, with notable progress in reducing poverty, improving access to education, ensuring environmental sustainability and building strong bilateral and multilateral partnerships.  Dominica's achievements in education had surpassed the Goals’ targets, and the country could now boast universal access at the early childhood, primary and secondary school levels.  Access to post-secondary education was also available to all secondary school graduates.

He said Dominica had always been guided by the principle of sustainable use of its national resources and protection of its physical environment, which was why it was called “the Nature Island of the Caribbean”.  In its efforts to ensure environmental sustainability and rid the island of reliance on fossil fuels, Dominica had invested in renewable energy, and today, about 20 per cent of the island's electricity needs were met from “clean” hydropower.  So far, the country had invested over $20 million in it geothermal resources, and production results indicated that the geothermal reservoir had capacity to generate sufficient electricity for domestic consumption.

Despite achievements, however, the world was a long way from where it aspired to be, he said.  The spectre of the deadly Ebola disease and the scourge of HIV/AIDS and non-communicable diseases had significant potential impacts and threatened the gains made so far by small island developing States.  The myriad existing challenges called for global action to protect those gains.  The impact of climate change remained an existential threat to people throughout the world who called small island developing States their home.  The islands of the Caribbean were also prone to earthquakes, droughts and torrential rains with their accompanying landslides and flash flooding — phenomena made worse by climate change.  Natural disasters severely damaged efforts to bring about social and economic development, he added.

Dominica joined the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in calling for development partners to conduct their macroeconomic and trade policies in a way that would facilitate opportunities and promote growth for small island developing States, he said.  That new criterion must take into account those States’ inherent vulnerabilities.  In that vein, he added that the economic embargo against Cuba remained of concern.  The unilateral action of the United States could not be justified today.  Similarly, the events in Ukraine were a “proxy tug of war” between the European Union and the United States on the one hand, and the Russian Federation on the other.  The United Kingdom, due to its current situation with regard to Scottish independence, was uniquely placed to counsel the European Union, United States, Kyiv and Moscow, to accord the people of Ukraine the same opportunity to decide their own destiny.

GJORGE IVANOV, President of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, said that recent natural disasters around the world, including in his region, were part of an alarming new reality that would transform the lives of future generations.  His was the first country in South-East Europe to have completed its third national report for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.  Additionally, it had taken steps in all key sectors of its economy and society to mitigate the effects of climate change, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing energy efficiency.

He said the rule of law was impossible without respect for human rights.  As a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, his country was committed to protecting and promoting human rights and dignity worldwide.  Thanks to its own model of coexistence, which was based on respect for diversity, the country held itself to the highest standards in that regard.  At the same time, however, the Macedonian people were being denied those rights, including the right to self-determination, in the country’s effort to join the European Union.  Forcing his country to give up its identity to meet the conditions of membership in the Union would breach the United Nations’ founding principle.

His country, he noted, also had refused to change its identity as a precondition for membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).  It took that stand on the basis of international law, which, he said, was the only thing that provided “predictability and certainty in this world order”.  On that basis, the International Court of Justice had advised in 2011 that blocking his country’s integration into NATO was illegal.  His country was ready to find a mutually acceptable resolution within the framework of international law.  As such, he urged the United Nations to devote its maximum attention to the issue.

Drawing attention to issues involving youth, he said that young people were victims of the violations in international order made by past and present generations.  Unless action was taken, they would remain victims of unjust systems.  His country was taking a leadership role on the matter, and together, with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), would organize next year’s dialogue of civilizations.  That forum would be dedicated entirely to young people.  To enhance dialogue and education on the issue, he proposed the establishment of an office for young Europeans of South-East Europe, and called on world leaders to devote more time and attention to youth.

IKILILOU DHOININE, President of Comoros, said that the current session, on the eve of the Organization's seventieth anniversary, was an opportunity to evaluate its performance and harness the process that would make 2015 the year of reform.  In so doing, consideration must be given to the new problems facing the fragile small island developing States and the recommendations resulting from the recent conference in Samoa.  Ways needed to be found to better represent developing countries, particularly those in Africa, which encompassed areas of appreciable economic growth, but also great poverty and bloody conflicts that delayed their development and the well-being of their people.

At the same time, he continued, the Security Council must assume coordination of the fight against terrorism.  In that context, he called for an urgent solution to the problem of Palestine, particularly following the latest bloody attacks on Gaza, which was almost as old as the Organization.  In a changing world, he stressed the importance of prevention in consolidating peace, while trying to resolve crises as they arose.

Turning to his own country, he noted that, although Comoros had been admitted to the United Nations in 1975, the process of the country's decolonization remained to be completed.  A joint high-level council, envisioned in Paris, had been established, holding its first meeting in November 2013.  Among other issues it would deal with was the movement of Comorians among the four islands of the archipelago.  That would help address ending the tragedies, unnoticed by the international community, that Comorian families faced daily.  Dialogue between the two parties was urgently needed to put an end to that human drama.  He had requested the support of the Indian Ocean Commission, of which both Comoros and France were members, to help end a dispute that had lasted for some 40 years.

The Millennium Development Goals were a global covenant of solidarity for the socioeconomic progress of developing countries, he went on to say.  The Comoros had made strides in achieving those goals, among them women's greater participation in political and economic life, maternal health, infant mortality, the fight against HIV/AIDS and equality in children's education, among others.  However, in the areas of food security, environmental degradation, energy, access to clean water and others, much remained to be done.

For that reason, he urged the incorporation of the unimplemented Millennium Development Goals into the Sustainable Development Goals, further calling for reinforcement of strategic partnerships, a fair international trade regime, the promotion of direct investments and greater engagement in the fight against climate change.  It was urgent to implement the recommendations of the various conferences on climate, notably the recent conference in Samoa and the summit that had just taken place in New York.

While there were numerous signs of economic growth in the countries of Africa, he said, the continent must meet the challenges presented to resolve conflicts and multiple threats to its peace and security.  That required international cooperation.  In that context, he singled out the alarming speed with which the Ebola virus was spreading, hailing the measures taken by many countries recently.

CHRISTOPHER J. LOEAK, President of the Marshall Islands, said that climate change posed no greater threat in the world than on its Pacific shores.  As a low-lying nation, his had no higher ground and, ultimately, nowhere to go.  Leaders could not afford “consensus games and squabbling” on that issue as words and intentions alone would not meet the major challenges ahead.  Without action, he warned, it would not be possible to reach the carbon emission targets necessary to save his nation.  Direct political ownership and “creative political solutions” were needed to meet that global challenge.

To that end, he said, the Marshall Islands strongly supported the call for a global phase-down of hydrofluorocarbon gases under the Montreal Protocol and would participate in the upcoming Climate Conference in Paris to carry the voice of its people.  Although that was a global fight, it was one that truly hit home.  Pushing back rising waters was crucial to saving countries’ future.  Leaders must respond to the climate change threat with courage and not simply “bury their heads in the sand to an obvious climate reality”, he urged.

The Marshall Islands stood firm with fellow Pacific leaders in their call for a United Nations Sustainable Development Goal on oceans, he said, adding that the Pacific Ocean and its rich fisheries was their lifeline.  Protecting the world’s vast blue water should be a priority as it represented two thirds of the world’s surface and would help address global food security.  Fishing nations must look beyond their immediate needs and towards their global responsibility.  Recent progress on sustainable fishing had helped empower Pacific nations, he said, adding that oceans were equally valuable as a resource for alternate sustainable energy, including ocean thermal energy conversion.

As a country which had had 67 nuclear tests conducted on its soil, the Marshall Islands was also concerned about nuclear proliferation, he said.  Today, the country still bore the burden and impacts of those tests.  Awareness of the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons must underpin all disarmament efforts, he stressed.  The Marshall Islands looked forward to addressing those issues during its participation next year in the United Nations Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review.  The United Nations should not only stop the spread of nuclear weapons, but should pursue a world without them.

ANOTE TONG, President of Kiribati, said those on the frontlines of climate change welcomed the renewed focus and rallying by Member States at this week's Climate Change Summit.  The real challenge was in translating those commitments and announcements into action.  Successful conferences did, however, signify the United Nations' recognition of the need to highlight the special cases of those States and to re-focus global attention to the prevailing socioeconomic and environmental challenges that continued to constrain the efforts of small island developing States.

Climate change remained the biggest threat to mankind, he said.  The international community could not afford to ignore the stories of island States like his regarding the plight of their people; that plight would be the world’s further down the line.  He had personally just returned from an expedition to the North Pole and was “still overwhelmed” by what he witnessed there with his own eyes.  The melting of massive sheets of ice in the Arctic region due to climate change would not only have severe impacts on the lives of people in that region, but would also result in the demise of future generations in other parts of the globe.

For Kiribati, climate change was not an event in the future, he said.  Rather, it was an event his country was dealing with today, and the international community could not talk about sustainable development without talking about climate change.  Kiribati was taking responsibility for its own well-being and sustainable development needs, with climate change and adaptation measures integrated into the national budgeting process and development programmes to strengthen disaster risk management.  The “migration with dignity” strategy was an investment in the education of Kiribati's people, equipping youth with qualifications and employable skills to help them migrate with dignity to other countries.

In July, he said, Kiribati and other low-lying atoll island States, including Tuvalu, Marshall Islands, Maldives and Tokelau, had formed a Coalition of low-lying Atoll Nations, called “CANCC” or “can see”.  That initiative aimed to highlight urgent action that must be taken now to assist those countries and all vulnerable communities to adapt to the impacts of climate change.

He further said that the ocean played a pivotal role in the sustainable development of his country, hinged on a “blue economy” and on the sustainable management of marine and ocean resources.  While Kiribati had been labelled a “small island developing State”, it was in fact a “large ocean State”, spanning an ocean area of 3.5 million square kilometres.  The ocean had been an integral part of Kiribati life from time immemorial, and while it posed a serious threat to survival now from sea level rise, it also provided immense opportunities through which to realize sustainable development and livelihood.

Human activities were responsible for the accelerated degradation of the global environment in the pursuit of short-term economic gains, which had been done without due regard to the health of oceans and the environment, he said.  Never before in history had the health of the oceans and planet been so challenged.  The international community shared responsibility and obligations to protect the ocean and to sustainably manage its biodiversity from further detrimental degradation.  Kiribati would be closing off the Phoenix Islands Protected Area in January 2015 from all commercial fishing.  That area was approximately 11 per cent of Kiribati's exclusive economic zone, and was about the size of California. The closure would entail a loss of much-needed revenue for Kiribati.  However, it was a major — but necessary — short-term sacrifice for the long-term health of the ocean and for sustainable fish stocks and global food security.

SUSHIL KOIRALA, Prime Minister of Nepal, said that terrorism was anathema to humanity, and was a serious threat to peace, security and development.  He shared concerns over the growing scourge of terrorism, extremism and religious fundamentalism and urged an early conclusion of the comprehensive convention on international terrorism and the effective implementation of the provisions of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.  Terrorism could be better tackled under the aegis of the United Nations with a coordinated global response.

He said that peacekeeping had emerged as a central activity and innovative tool to deal with threats to peace and security.  Nepal was proud to have long contributed to United Nations peacekeeping operations in troubled parts of the world.  Nepal was the fifth largest troop contributor, and Nepalese blue helmets had been commended for performing extremely well in trying circumstances and would continue to participate, as well as to promote gender equality through women’s increased participation.

Speaking to other issues, he said that international peace and security could not be achieved amid the continuing arms race, and he was concerned by the lack of progress in major multilateral negotiations on the issue.  He also was concerned at the illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons, and called on all member States to step up disarmament measures.  He also spoke to the Ebola epidemic, which had taken the form of a global public health emergency.  The United Nations and the WHO must address symptoms and root causes in a coordinated manner.

Nepal remained fully committed to the protection and promotion of human rights and had put the required institutional mechanisms in place, he said.  Nepal strongly believed in the universality, indivisibility, non-selectivity and interdependent character of all human rights, including the right to development.  He especially underlined the need to ensure the rights and well-being of migrant workers, and said it was necessary to define the roles and responsibilities of the countries of origin, transit and destination to safeguard migrants’ basic rights.

In its seven decades, the United Nations had been found to be the most successful when the letter and spirit of its Charter was honoured, he said.  Indeed, the real solutions to world problems lay in strengthening and extending the authority of the United Nations.

IRAKLI GARIBASHVILI, Prime Minister of Georgia, said that, despite significant progress, his country was still a young democracy and took nothing for granted.  In tough times, the public protested and cast votes at the ballot box to ensure continued democracy, and steps had since been taken to break cycles of corruption and impunity, and to make the economy more inclusive.  Governance and the rule of law were stronger, and he celebrated recent elections and stressed that his Government would be accountable.  Democratic institutions were being strengthened and a new Constitution had been approved.  Parliament acted as a proper legislature and was no longer a “rubber stamp”.  A human rights strategy and action plan, anti-discrimination laws and an independent judiciary were all in effect and the media and civil society were playing a greater role.

He said that efforts towards NATO membership were accompanied by an Association Agreement with the European Union to gradually establish European political, economic, social and legislative norms and standards.  Georgia’s democratic transformation could serve as a model for other countries.  The economy was opening, with investment and reforms, and the Government would implement the new development agenda and take seriously the “Rio+20” outcomes.  Social equity and protection of the environment were also important to economic growth, as were gender equality, women’s empowerment and a concentration on youth.

Internally displaced persons and refugees were major concerns for Georgia, he said, noting increased numbers arriving from the Middle East and Ukraine.  His country gave political and technical assistance to Ukraine and supported its territorial integrity and sovereignty.  The General Assembly resolution on internally displaced persons and refugees from Georgia was welcome, and he was committed to restoring Georgia's full territorial integrity and sovereignty.  Efforts to improve relations with the Russian Federation were ongoing under a two-track approach.  On the one hand, “significant results” had been achieved in the pursuit of resumed trade, and economic, cultural and humanitarian relations, but in terms of pursuing Russian respect for the 2008 ceasefire and troop withdrawal, Georgia's efforts had not met the same spirit of cooperation.  Georgia was the largest non-NATO troop contributor to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), and he looked forward to NATO membership.  Georgian troops were also part of the European Union deployment to the Central African Republic.

He was committed, he said, to using Georgia’s strategic location to connect Asia, Europe and the Middle East.  The “Silk Road” had reopened, which he believed was among the greatest post-cold war achievements.  To unlock its full potential, the international community should redouble efforts on trade and transport, energy and people-to-people contacts.  Georgia had deepened cooperation with countries on the Silk Road, he said, adding that transport and energy links were key to economic development and integration.  In that connection, Georgia supported a route for Caspian Sea oil and gas to reach Europe.  Noting the massive expansion of the South Caucasus Pipeline through Azerbaijan and Georgia, he said it was bringing 16 billion cubic metres of new natural gas to Europe and Turkey, and thousands of new jobs to Georgia.  He looked forward to the Silk Road Forum in 2015 to enhance cooperation.  Georgia would seek to install clean and renewable energy, especially hydropower, in order to become carbon neutral, he added.

ELIO DI RUPO, Prime Minister of Belgium, named four people who had been murdered 24 May simply for being in the Jewish Museum in Brussels, but he also recalled the many killed by terrorists, in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere.  Foreign fighters among them constituted a threat to all people.  The recent resolution adopted by the Security Council was a start to addressing that threat.  In that context, Belgium had decided to send six F-16 fighters to combat terrorism in Iraq.  As stated in the resolution, efforts must be taken to prevent candidates for Jihad from reaching combat zones.  Each country must be vigilant on border control, particularly with regard to minors.  The fight was a conflict between those who valued human life, freedom, and tolerance, and the terrorists who did not.  Education was important to de-radicalize the radicals.

Political authorities who had favoured military actions, the famous “preventive war”, in which Belgium refused to participate, bore some responsibility.  “How could we not see that such a war would create more radicals?,” he asked.  Strengthening the rule of law and improving living conditions were the best crisis management and were more cost-effective than managing violence.  In the Middle East, he said, Belgium had watched in despair the launch of rockets into Israel and the massive bombing of Gaza.  War was not the answer to create two States living in peace.  The settlement of that conflict must be moved back to the top of the international agenda and the international community must do everything to further peace and prosperity.

Elsewhere, he said that support was needed in Africa for educational and economic development.  In the Democratic Republic of the Congo it was urgent to put armed groups far from where they could do harm, and support must be mobilized for populations dealing with Ebola.  There was destabilization on the edges of Europe as well, where recognized borders were being disturbed.  Concerning Malaysia Airlines flight 17, in which Belgian citizens had died, he urgently awaited the report of the independent experts who must have free access to the site.

There would only be peace if tolerance ruled, he said.  The role of the United Nations in the settlement of conflicts was irreplaceable as it was the only place the world's representatives could get together.  Too many were living in poverty, had no access to safe water or health services, among other things.  There would be no human progress without a normalization of global finance.  Too many women and men had no access to work or housing because they were of foreign origin; too many women faced violence for being women; and too many were discriminated against because they were homosexual, lesbian or loved differently.

Belgium was one of the most open countries in the world, he said.  It was a wealthy country, yet it had the smallest inequalities in Europe due to its State policies.  All had access to excellent health care, for example.  There was great ethnic diversity, including through immigration.  It was important not to fall into the trap of social aggression that increased inequality.  Human brotherhood was not a utopia, but it was what had allowed humans to progress.  Human brotherhood was the most powerful thing that would allow all people to share the environment and ensure that peace reigned everywhere.

KAMLA PERSAD-BISSESSAR, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, said that her country was poised to achieve 70 per cent of the 43 targets across eight Millennium Development Goals, which were relevant in the national context.  Forty-two per cent of those targets had already been met, and 28 per cent were likely to be achieved by 2015.  It was possible to advance the original objectives before the end of the year with more dedicated effort.  Some of the gaps included access to affordable essential medicines and long-term debt sustainability.

At the Rio+20 Conference in 2012, her country had agreed on many of the foundation elements of the post-2015 development agenda, she said.  Those included the Secretary-General’s Global Sustainability Report, the sustainable development goals, the Report of the Intergovernmental Committee on Sustainable Development Financing, and outcomes of the structured dialogues on a specialized technology mechanism and the 10-year framework of programmes for sustainable development.

She said the international community, together with the institutional support of the high-level political forum on sustainable development, the reformed Economic and Social Council and the United Nations Environmental Assembly, had a solid foundation on which to build a global partnership in support of poverty eradication though sustainable development.  Her country looked forward to the synthesized report of the Secretary-General, which should place all those elements in the context of a fully integrated new development agenda.  It was a priority to revitalize global partnership in support of sustainable development, reform the international financial institutions, and complete the Doha Round of trade talks. 

It was also important, she stressed, to address the mitigation gap for achieving the 2°C target for limiting the increase in global greenhouse gas emissions as well as for achieving an ambitious legally binding agreement on climate change.  Such an agreement should set the world on track to achieve carbon neutrality by 2070 and, by so doing, ensure that global climate would support the sustainable development of present as well as future generations.

She shared the vision with other Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of State and Government of a Caribbean region that was integrated, inclusive and resilient, and which was driven by knowledge, innovation and productivity, where every citizen was secure and had the opportunity to realize his or her potential.  Such a community would be a unified and competitive force in the global arena.

ELMAR MAHARRAM OGLU MAMMADYAROV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, said that his country’s record in attaining the Millennium Goals was unique.  GDP had increased 3.4 times over the last 10 years, with the country’s economy now accounting for more than 80 per cent of that of the South Caucasus.  The poverty rate had fallen from 49 per cent in 2004 to 5.3 per cent in 2014, while unemployment had dropped from 10.6 per cent to 5 per cent in that time.  That rapid development had enabled Azerbaijan to become an emerging donor of ODA.

Azerbaijan, he noted, had also established itself as a reliable supplier of energy in the global market.  A ground-breaking ceremony had recently been held launching the Southern Gas Corridor, which would allow Europe to receive gas from a completely new resource base in Azerbaijan.  The country had also initiated a trans-Eurasian information super highway to provide ICT services to the region.

Noting that violence and fragility remained the greatest obstacles to development, he said that the world community faced serious breaches of the fundamental norms and principles of international law.  In that context, he spoke of Armenia’s breach of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, about which the Security Council had adopted four resolutions in 1993.  Unfortunately, Armenia had disregarded them all.  It was crucial for the international community to play a proactive role in ending impunity for the crimes committed by Armenia against the civilian population of Azerbaijan.  The principle of self-determination required the return of displaced Azerbaijanis to the Nagorno-Karabakh region, where they would live with the Armenian community in peace, dignity and prosperity within Azerbaijan.

ERLAN A. IDRISSOV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, said that “unilateral actions and double standards” had destabilized the world, exacerbating ethnic tensions and threatening global security.  Of particular concern was the situation in Ukraine, which was affecting the entire region and had led to sanctions imposed by countries that made up 60 per cent of the world's GDP.  Kazakhstan supported initiatives aimed at the de-escalation of the conflict, including the Minsk peace agreements, which gave hope for long-term stability.

No country should act unilaterally, he said.  To adjust to a “new, multi-polar world order”, Kazakhstan proposed the G-Global initiative, which would promote tolerance, transparency, trust and “constructive multilateralism”.  At this turbulent time, there was a need for new approaches and bold actions to address the world's problems.  His country encouraged Member States to use G-Global to draw up plans that would address future global crises.  Building on momentum it had garnered at the Astana Economic Forum, he encouraged the General Assembly to consider adopting that framework.

Having lived with the effects of nuclear testing, Kazakhstan was determined to promote awareness on the perils of those weapons, he said.  Non-proliferation remained one of the most important priorities of Kazakhstan's foreign policy.  His country’s President had launched the ATOM (Abolish Testing Our Mission) Project, a global education campaign that called for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) to be entered into force as soon as possible.  The signing of the Semipalatinsk Treaty by the Permanent Five marked a major landmark in nuclear security and it was now time for those countries to ratify the protocol as soon possible.  The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) remained the cornerstone of the non-proliferation movement, and he encouraged all to uphold the provisions of the NPT and work towards ratification of the CTBT.

ABDULAZIZ KAMILOV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan, said that the world’s escalating conflicts could only be resolved through political means and strict observance to the fundamental principles of international law as enshrined in the United Nations Charter.  The continued instability in Afghanistan posed a serious threat to the security of Central Asia and the wider region.  Peace in that country could not be achieved by military force, he said, adding that the Afghan people were tired of bloodshed and had a right to determine their own fate.  Uzbekistan adhered to a policy of non-interference and would instead support Afghanistan through mutually-beneficial bilateral relations.

Against the ensuing global financial crisis, regional economic cooperation would help ensure stability and sustainable development in Central Asia, he said.  Large infrastructure projects, particularly in transport and communication, would connect the region with global markets, promote economic cooperation, and boost interregional trade.  Upcoming projects include a transport corridor linking the countries of the Central Asian region to the Middle East through the shortest, most reliable and secure route.  Uzbekistan’s assistance in the construction of the Khairaton-Mazaree-Sharif railroad — the first linking Afghanistan with the external world — would also be a landmark event, he said.

Like many other countries in the world, Uzbekistan experienced a shortage of water, he said.  Fair and reasonable usage was vital to the livelihoods of people in Central Asia.  Issues must be resolved in line with international laws and norms, with clearly defined principles that protected the environment as well as the interests of neighbours.  Large hydropower projects that disturbed the natural flow of transnational rivers created a threat to the water, food and environmental safety of the region and could provoke tension, he added.

Robust economic development had allowed Uzbekistan to implement the Millennium Development Goals ahead of schedule.  Since independence, the Uzbek economy had grown nearly five-fold, which had led to a marked improvement in quality of life.  Around 60 per cent of State expenditures were channelled into social development, including education and maternal health, he reported.  As such, the mortality rate among children below age 5 had decreased significantly, as had maternal mortality.  Continuing on that success, Uzbekistan looked forward to achieving the post-2015 development goals ahead of schedule as well.

ALI AHMED KARTI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sudan, described his country's political transition, noting that President Omer al-Bashir had established national dialogue on such topics as rights, foreign relations, and the economy.  The Government and opposition were aiming to agree on a way forward for Sudan.  Sanctions against the country should be lifted and its debt forgiven, he stressed, describing the positive role Sudan was playing in the peace and security of its neighbours.  There had been no interference when conflict broke out in South Sudan, he noted.  Instead, Sudan had provided humanitarian aid and accepted 100,000 internally displaced persons.  Efforts were also made to help resolve conflicts in the Central African Republic and Libya, while cooperation with Ethiopia and Egypt continued to ensure universal benefits from the Blue Nile.  On Palestine, he urged support for Palestinian demands, saying that failure to protect them fuelled global extremism. 

Noting support for the post-2015 development agenda, he pointed to the unanimous agreement on ideas for international partnerships to end poverty and suffering, which were part of the Millennium Declaration.  Achievements had fallen short, with some development partners taking actions that ran counter to the Declaration.  The imposition of unilateral sanctions was especially damaging.  Sudan's efforts to eradicate poverty had received support from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.  Affirming that common responsibility was needed to pursue development, he stressed the importance of cancelling debts, transferring technology, North-South cooperation, and allowing the United Nations to play a role.  He underlined the need for global cooperation in tackling climate change and terrorism.  Unilateral efforts could not eradicate, but only aggravate, terrorism.

CARLOS RAÚL MORALES, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, said that his country had begun to prevail in the battle against chronic malnourishment in children.  In one year, the programme, known as “Zero Hunger”, had managed to reduce chronic malnourishment by 2 per cent, which was the same reduction as that achieved in the previous decade.  Should that trend be maintained, the current Administration in Guatemala would have reduced that problem beyond what had been achieved since 1985.

He said that the number of homicides in Guatemala for the third consecutive year had been reduced, coming closer to achieving levels of security last seen after peace accords in 1996.  That advancement showed that the measures put in place were producing the expected results and that Guatemalan democracy was slowly winning its battle against crime and impunity.  His country had also strengthened criminal prosecution of mafia networks.  Further advancements had also been made with regard to business measures, including reducing bureaucratic procedures and improving the country’s infrastructure.

In the framework of advances in social and economic development, as well as security, he said it was important to also mention the crisis regarding child migrants such as had occurred on the border between Mexico and the United States.  That crisis required a strategic response which attacked the structural roots of that phenomenon, and which offered sustained actions.  That implied working together to promote greater shared prosperity in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, and a lucid management of temporal work for migrants that satisfied the demands of the labour market in the United States and the supply of workers from Central America.  Additionally, a shortfall of rain this year in the region had led to the loss of crops and food for hundreds of thousands of families.  Addressing the food crisis in Guatemala alone would cost close to $50 million during the next eight months.

The shaping of the post-2015 agenda must embrace inclusive and sustainable development goals that promoted justice for all, he said.  Guatemala was committed to addressing the world drug problem, the focus of which must be integral, objective and based on evidence.  The United Nations offered the ideal venue to address such conflicts and tensions, and he reiterated hope that dialogue, agreements and preventive diplomacy took precedence over the use of force.

HARRY KALABA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Zambia, expressed deep concern about the Ebola outbreak, which he described as a “common challenge to humanity”.  Zambia was ready to support efforts in defeating the virus and bringing back normalcy to the affected African States.  That global health emergency, along with other public health challenges, such as malaria, tuberculosis, and AIDS, required a concerted, unified approach.

He said his country supported ongoing discussions related to the post-2015 development agenda, notably those relating to population and development, labour, and climate change.  Zambia was also focused on the growing problem of early and forced marriages, which was rooted in poverty and exploitation.  As such, it had hosted a national symposium on the issue and taken several other initiatives to reduce the gender divide. It looked forward to working with other nations to curb incidences of child marriage and promote the advancement of women worldwide.  His country's commitment to women’s empowerment was in line with the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action.

The question of Security Council reform remained an important priority for Zambia, which was concerned at the minimal progress made towards its expansion, he said.  As a member of the African Union Committee of Ten on Security Council reform, Zambia urged the body to make long-overdue reforms and reiterated the importance of the issue to other African States.  To that end, the continent was committed to all five clusters of the intergovernmental negotiation process outlined in General Assembly Decision 62/557 (2008), he added.

Right of Reply

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of India responded to “unwarranted references” made by Pakistan's Prime Minister in his speech, stressing that Jammu and Kashmir had peacefully chosen their future.  He rejected in their entirety the comments made.

The representative of Armenia, also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said Azerbaijan’s statement relied on falsified information.  They repeated the same lies yearly, so he wondered if the leadership now believed what they were saying.  He provided several examples that he said refuted what Azerbaijan claimed and called on Azerbaijan to engage constructively on the basis of principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity, non-use of force or the threat of force.

The representative of Azerbaijan took the floor in exercise of the right of reply, pointing to a “moral and legal irresponsibility” on the part of Armenia.  Four United Nations resolutions were the most authoritative rulings on the situation, all demanding the withdrawal of Armenia’s occupying forces.  No withdrawal was happening.  A state of aggression continued because of the ongoing occupation.  The representative had referred to self-determination, but the Armenian ethnic minority did not fit into any of the three categories recognized as being entitled to self-determination. 

The representative of Armenia took to the floor for a second time, stressing that the people of Nagorno-Karabakh had been clear about their wishes and that any aggression against them would be considered as such.  Armenians might not have been the majority population in Azerbaijan, but they were the majority population in Nagorno-Karabakh.  He described Armenia’s efforts to integrate Azeri refugees and stressed that no Azeri had any historical, legal or moral right to tell Nagorno-Karabakh how to live or how independent they should be.

The representative of Azerbaijan also took to the floor for a second time, saying the claim of Nagorno-Karabakh’s independence was “an outright lie”.  Armenia had been responsible for the creation of a “subordinate, puppet regime” and had given vital political, military and economic means to the separatist regime.  She added that the ethnic make-up of the region was due to ethnic cleansing and stated that Armenia’s Head of State took pride in his involvement in atrocities.

For information media. Not an official record.