27 September 2014

Unparalleled Global Pressures Tempered in General Assembly Debate by Appeals to Forge Bonds with Neighbours, Mitigate Man-Made, Natural Disasters

27 September 2014
General Assembly
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-ninth General Assembly


15th & 16th Meetings (AM & PM)

Unparalleled Global Pressures Tempered in General Assembly Debate by Appeals

to Forge Bonds with Neighbours, Mitigate Man-Made, Natural Disasters


Amid growing global tensions and turmoil, fostering neighbourly relations was vital to national development and prosperity and in keeping with the “surge of democracy” spreading throughout the world, the General Assembly heard today as debate continued into the weekend.

India’s Prime Minister said his country desired a peaceful and stable environment for its development, as a nation’s destiny was “linked to its neighbourhood”.  He was prepared to engage in a serious bilateral dialogue with Pakistan, without the shadow of terrorism, to promote friendship and cooperation.

“Let us bring ourselves in tune with the call of our times,” he continued, pointing out that the world was witnessing tensions and turmoil on a scale rarely seen in recent history, requiring a genuine global partnership. 

The Russian Federation’s Foreign Minister, expressing sincere interest in restoring peace in “the neighbouring country”, highlighted the ceasefire agreement signed by the Russian and Ukrainian Presidents, which, he said, had created an opening to resolve the situation.

At the same time, he argued that the United States and the European Union supported the coup d’état in Ukraine and that the self-proclaimed Kyiv authorities had opted for suppression of the Ukrainian people, propelling the population of Crimea to take destiny into their own hands in favour of self-determination.

In the context of the unparalleled unrest worldwide, several speakers, including from conflict “hot spots”, shared their ongoing struggles for peace and democracy.  Among them was the President of the House of Representatives of Libya, who said that the unarmed revolutionaries and intellectuals who had defeated the dictatorship three years ago had left the political arena.

He said the armed coalition known as “Dawn of Libya”, which included a group with Al-Qaida ideology, was trying to impose its will on the Libyan people by force, violating human rights, blackmailing the Government for funds, and aiming to derail his country’s democratic transition.

South Sudan’s journey to peace and independence, said its President, had been costly and characterized by marginalization, a prolonged war, human disasters, the loss of millions of lives and untold human suffering.  The youngest nation had already seen violent conflict erupt in December 2013, he added.

However, noting his Government’s unwavering commitment to resolving the conflict peacefully, he pointed out that South Sudan’s negotiating team had been in Addis Ababa since January to talk with the rebels in the hope of closing that “dark chapter” in its history.  With the help of mediators, his Government had signed a cessation agreement, but the rebels had refused to do so.

The Transitional Head of State of the Central African Republic said political instability and internal conflict had plunged the nation into a state of extreme vulnerability.  However, following the resignation of her predecessor in January, her Administration represented a radical break from the past.  With firm determination, she had embarked on efforts to restore security and peace, address the humanitarian crisis, foster economic growth, and ensure free, transparent elections.  Her plea for global support did not “fall on deaf ears”, she said.

Also high on the agenda of today’s debate were the impacts of climate change on small island developing States.  Tuvalu’s Prime Minister wondered if leaders “really cared”.  To the “deniers” of climate change, he said that the security and future human rights of its citizens were “seriously compromised”, as the country was only two to three meters above sea level.  He called for action by the international community to halt climate change, urging it to “save us”.

Supporting calls to address the adverse impacts of climate change, the King of Tonga said his country was a custodian of the Pacific Ocean, whose natural resources were the “bedrock” of the islands’ economic, social and environmental development.  The well-being of the Tongan people, he stressed, was premised on the sustainable development, management and conservation of that ocean.

Similarly, Fiji’s Prime Minister urged more concerted efforts to confront the enormous challenges to the Pacific region, namely population growth and the unsustainable use of ocean resources.  History would judge the world’s major carbon emitters extremely harshly unless they took “immediate and comprehensive” steps to reduce emissions, he declared.

Heads of State and Government of Mali and Bangladesh also spoke.

Also participating were Ministers and other Government officials from Burundi, Thailand, Germany, China, San Marino, United Arab Emirates, Cuba, Austria, Andorra, Viet Nam, Greece, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Algeria, Mozambique, Portugal, Czech Republic, Jamaica and Afghanistan.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of Iran, Pakistan and India.

The general debate will continue at 9 a.m. Monday, 29 September.


TUPOU VI, King of Tonga, said that, in order to guarantee a harmonious implementation of the post-2015 development agenda, each country should take primary responsibility for its own economic growth, social development and environmental sustainability.  However, that could only be fully realized with the active engagement of all relevant stakeholders through genuine and durable partnerships.  In that regard, he looked forward to working with the international community towards adopting the post-2015 development agenda.

This year, the Pacific Island leaders had endorsed the Palau Declaration entitled “The Ocean:  Life & Future, Charting a Course to Sustainability”, he said.  Tonga was a joint custodian of the Pacific Ocean, whose natural resources were the bedrock of Pacific Island economic, social and environmental development.  The well-being of the Tongan people was, therefore, premised on the sustainable development, management and conservation of that ocean and its resources.

He said the management of seabed exploration and exploitation was an important facet of Tonga’s interests in the oceans.  The Government had worked diligently through the relevant institutions established under the Convention on the Law of the Sea to ensure that activity within the Pacific Ocean was managed appropriately and for the benefit of all humankind.  For the first time, Tonga was seeking election to the Council of the International Seabed Authority.

He commended the Secretary-General’s initiative to convene the Climate Change Summit and deliver bold announcements on Climate Change mitigation and adaptation.  Supporting calls to address the adverse impacts of climate change, he said responses must be based upon the principles of equity and of common, but differentiated responsibility.  He underscored that the 2013 World Risk Report ranked Tonga as the second most vulnerable country in the world to natural disasters.

He also appealed for a meaningful approach that went beyond rhetoric to reform the Security Council, so that it would be more representative and inclusive, through an intergovernmental process.  For future generations to live in a better world, the international community must work harmoniously to fulfil its responsibility and seek “the Almighty God” to give guidance through the rising challenges.

IBRAHIM BOUBACAR KEITA, President of Mali, said that, at the 2012 Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio, Member States had sought to offer a better world for future generations.  The “future we want” was feasible, but the international community faced a critical task of formulating the post-2015 development agenda.  The current session’s theme, “Delivering on and Implementing a Transformative Post-2015 Development Agenda”, integrated all components of the Millennium Development Goals and sustainable development goals.  Eliminating extreme poverty by 2030 should be a priority in the new development framework.  In that regard, he urged the international community to carefully and diligently review and support the African Common Position.

With the critical year of 2015 approaching, Africa had been confronted with the outbreak of Ebola, he said.  The scale of that new challenge required doubling efforts and resources.  He had shared last year his resolve to turn Mali into a free democratic nation and write a new page in its history.  The 18 June Ouagadougou Accord was a significant development in the political and security arenas, establishing a central Government, as well as the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) mandate.  His Government had identified structural weaknesses, such as poor governance and corruption and an open forum had been created on decentralization.  Under the auspices of Algeria and other partners, inter-Malian dialogue on comprehensive and lasting peace was under way, with an eye towards entering the final process towards signing a peace agreement with the armed groups.

Terrorist attacks were on the rise in Libya, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Tunisia and the Middle East, he said, expressing regret that terrorism was taking root under the name of religion.  The Malian crisis in 2012 had led to the adoption of the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel.  Ministers for Foreign Affairs in the region had decided to meet every six months.  At the second meeting in Bamako on 16 May, the Malian Road Map had been adopted.  He also expressed concern about extremists in Syria and Iraq, particularly the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), calling for the implementation of relevant United Nations resolutions.  His country was committed to cutting the flow of illegal light and small weapons, a factor contributing to violence.  The Arms Trade Treaty as a genuine step forward.

Although the topic of Security Council reform had been on the agenda for two decades, no progress had been made, he pointed out.  Issues at stake concerned veto power, equitable regional representation, expansion of membership, and the Council’s relations with the General Assembly.  Africa, consisting of 53 States, was the only continent that did not have a permanent seat.  That ran counter to the Organization’s principles of equality and justice.  His country had proposed two permanent seats with veto power and five non-permanent seats for Africa.

SALVA KIIR, President of South Sudan, said the journey of his people from conflict to peace and for independence and freedom had been costly and characterized by marginalization, a prolonged war, human disasters, loss of millions of lives and untold human suffering.  At its independence, his country had been faced with an inadequate infrastructure, limited human capacity and weak security.

Recalling the violent conflict that erupted in his country in December 2013, he said his Government was unwaveringly committed to resolving conflict peacefully.  The country’s negotiating team had been in Addis Ababa since January of this year to talk to rebels in order to close that dark chapter in the history of the young country.  With the help of mediators, a cessation agreement had been signed by his Government, which reaffirmed its commitment in this past May.  However, rebels had violated it too many times and had refused to sign the document.  The international community, he stressed, must urge the rebels to sign the protocol to the agreement.

He said the conflict in South Sudan was purely a struggle for power and not an ethnic conflict as had been reported.  Citizens displaced by conflict had sought refuge in neighbouring States and in the neighbouring countries.  Those innocent victims of conflict urgently needed and deserved human assistance.  In that regard, he expressed thanks to the Government of Norway for organizing a donor conference to support his country’s humanitarian needs and to the United Nations for having organized a high-level ministerial meeting in the same regard.

The conflicts within both South Sudan and Sudan tended to be interconnected, he pointed out.  For that reason, the people of South Sudan would exert more efforts in strengthening their country’s relationship with Sudan and to resolve issues through dialogue.

Turning to the United Nations Advance Mission in the Sudan, he said his Government was collaborating with the Mission and other stakeholders to build trust with the internally displaced persons in the Mission’s camp, so that they could return to their homes and conflict-free areas and resume their normal lives.  However, expressing concern with the mandate of the Advance Mission, he requested the United Nations reconsider its mandate during the renewal of the mandate period in November.

CATHERINE SAMBA-PANZA, Transitional Head of State of the Central African Republic, said that the current session was taking place while her country was in a difficult situation, which was of interest to all Member States.  Political instability and internal conflicts had plunged the Central African Republic into a state of extreme vulnerability.  The country had been shaken and its people were facing tragic situations.  In January 2014, her predecessor resigned.  Her leadership gave rise to hope.  She was the first female Head of State, representing a radical break from the past.  With firm determination, she had set out to address the nation’s challenges, embarking on efforts to restore security and peace, address the humanitarian crisis, launch activities that fostered economic growth, and ensure the convening of free, transparent elections.

Her call for international support for her transitional Government had not fallen on deaf ears, she said, welcoming Security Council resolution 2147 (2014), which had established the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).  Since 15 September, authority had been transferred from the African-led International Support Mission to the Central African Republic (MISCA) to MINUSCA.  The success of that transition depended upon the involvement of national security forces.  Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration would require substantial international support.

On the humanitarian front, she said that the number of internally displaced persons had dropped; 81 per cent had left the camps and returned to their communities.  Yet, the situation was generally concerning as it hinged on fragile security.  The conflict had cut the country’s economic growth rate by 36 per cent in 2013, plunging it into recession.  She expressed hope that the agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on rapid disbursement of funds would put the country on a path of growth.  On the political front, she had focused on “disarming hearts and minds” through national reconciliation.  The Ebola outbreak and the spread of Boko Haram and the Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA, terrorist groups in neighbouring Nigeria and Cameroon were also worrying.

She supported efforts to cut the illegal flow of small arms and light weapons and expressed commitment to fight impunity, noting that her country was a party to the Rome Statute.  She also supported the effort of France and Mexico to limit the veto power in the Council in cases concerning such serious crimes as genocide.  On climate change, she urged Member States to ratify the Doha amendment to the Kyoto Protocol.  Her country backed Morocco on the question of Western Sahara.

PROSPER BAZOMBANZA, Vice-President of Burundi, said the Millennium Development Goals had formed a pact of global solidarity in the economic and social fields.  While countries had varying experiences, it would be wrong to abandon the Goals and to start from scratch.  Continued reform must be pursued, especially in areas that had led to unprecedented progress.  That approach would help to define the objectives for the post-2015 development agenda.  Despite challenges, his country had made undeniable progress in the areas of education and health care, especially as they related to young girls and women.

His Government was preparing for the upcoming presidential and general elections, scheduled to begin in May 2015, he said.  Owing to the adoption of a road map for the various political parties, the elections should be transparent, free and democratic.  Parliament already had adopted the electoral code.  The Independent National Electoral Commission announced the elections schedule last June.  Among his Government’s efforts towards good governance was a law passed by Parliament to set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission under the 2000 Arusha Agreement.  Consultations were under way for the election of its 11 commissioners.  In addition, an ad hoc committee for the selection of candidates had been established by general consensus.

As for the consolidation of aid to Burundi, he noted that the mandate of the United Nations Office in Burundi would complete its term on 31 December of this year, and responsibility would be transferred to the United Nations Country Team.  The Joint Transition Programme was presented to the authorized body in May, in the Burundi offices.  A joint steering committee and a technical transition team had taken office.

On economic affairs, he said Burundi held two industry conferences in 2013 on priority areas, which produced mixed results.  In that regard, he appealed to partners represented in the Assembly to honour the commitments made at the 2012 conference in Geneva.  After 2015, Burundi would focus on good governance, inequality, economic growth and employment, access to basic social services and food security, and redouble its efforts to safeguard the principles of the Millennium Declaration.

NARENDRA MODI, Prime Minister of India, noted that there was a surge of democracy across the world.  Afghanistan was at a historic moment of democratic transition and affirmation of unity.  Nepal had moved from violence to peace and democracy.  Bhutan’s young democracy was flourishing.  Democracy was trying to find a voice in West Asia and North Africa, with Tunisia’s success demonstrating it was possible.  There was a new stirring for stability and progress in Africa and unprecedented spread of prosperity in Asia and beyond.  Latin America was coming together in shared pursuit of stability and prosperity.  As well, India desired a peaceful and stable environment for its development, as a nation’s destiny was linked to its “neighbourhood”.

He said he was prepared to engage in a serious bilateral dialogue with Pakistan in a peaceful atmosphere, without the shadow of terrorism, to promote friendship and cooperation.  Pakistan must also take its responsibility to create an appropriate environment.  Raising issues in the General Assembly was not the way to make progress towards resolving bilateral issues.  Instead, both sides should be thinking about the victims of floods in Jammu and Kashmir.  India had organized massive flood relief operations and had offered assistance for Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

“Let us bring ourselves in tune with the call of our times,” he said, pointing out that the world was witnessing tensions and turmoil on a scale rarely seen in recent history.  No one country or group of countries could determine the course of the world.  There had to be a genuine global partnership.  That was not just a moral position, but a practical reality.  Putting aside differences, Member States should mount a concerted effort to combat terrorism and extremism, he said, urging them to adopt the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.  Furthermore, the international community must pursue a more stable and inclusive global development.  Globalization had created new poles of growth, yet billions of people still lived on the edge of poverty.

He highlighted the need to change people’s lifestyles to create a more habitable and sustainable world, and in that regard, he said he believed that yoga could help.  Yoga embodied unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being.  It was not about exercise, but about discovering the sense of oneness with self, the world and the nature.  “By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change,” he said, urging delegates to adopt an International Yoga Day.

SHEIKH HASINA, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, said that a global order based on peaceful coexistence, social justice and freedom from poverty, hunger, exploitation and justice continued to be her country’s guiding vision in its national development and its engagement with the world.  She expressed her Government’s full solidarity with the Palestinian people.  Bangladesh had so far contributed 128,133 peacekeepers to 54 United Nations peacekeeping missions, as the highest number of women police officers to those operations.

Her Government had created a strong legal and regulatory regime for countering terrorism, she said, adding that, in order to uphold the rule of law and end impunity, crimes committed during the 1971 “liberation war” were being brought to trial.  The Bangladeshi economy had grown during the last five years, and several infrastructure and connectivity projects were being brought to fruition.  Eighteen “economic zones” were being established across the country for potential investors.  With a young workforce, skills development of its population remained a policy imperative for Bangladesh.  By making use of contemporary communication technology, the country was reaching both rural and urban people with crucial public services.

Having made strides in education, Bangladesh had reached the Millennium Development Goal of ensuring universal primary school enrolment, offering students a free education up to the twelfth grade.  Sustainable development entailed women’s equal participation in all parts of life.  Bangladesh’s efforts to promote women’s empowerment were showing results.  A percentage of posts in the judicial, administrative, civil service, armed forces and law enforcement agencies were reserved for women, as were 60 per cent of primary school teacher posts.  Implementation of the Millennium Development Goals had been “uneven” and “unequal” among countries and regions, she said, noting that the eradication of poverty must remain at the centre of the post-2015 development agenda.

Further, the agenda had to meaningfully address the long-standing resource and capacity constraints of low-income developing countries, she said.  No challenge was as formidable as climate change to a country like Bangladesh, where a one-metre rise in the sea-level would submerge a fifth of the country and turn 30 million people into “climate migrants”.  Her country, therefore, had a “crucial need” for adequate, predictable climate financing.  There was untapped potential in the “blue economy”, which would allow coastal and small island developing States to benefit through utilization of marine ecosystems and resources, and her country, therefore, supported its incorporation into the post-2015 framework.

JOSAIA V. BAINIMARAMA, Prime Minister of Fiji, said it was his honour to inform the General Assembly that his country had kept its promise to introduce genuine democracy.  He stood at the podium today as the first duly elected Prime Minister under the new Constitution, which replaced three previous Constitutions since independence from Britain in 1970.  For nearly four decades, Fiji had laboured under a system that was undemocratic, unjust and unfair.  The former, weighted system had perpetuated injustice for a great many people, creating different classes of citizens and encouraging corruption.  However, with a series of reforms, the nation had been transformed.

Every Fijian now enjoyed equal opportunity and a common Fijian identity, he said.  That designation, once reserved for the indigenous majority, now applied to everyone from the Republic of Fiji, just as “American” applies to all from the United States, or “Australian” to people from Australia.  Today, Fiji was a fairer, more just and more compassionate society, and was stepping up efforts to alleviate poverty on the back of a rapidly strengthening economy.

Fiji’s journey since independence had been long and sometimes traumatic, he said.  There had been four coups, a rebellion, four Constitutions and 56 ”days of shame” in 2000, when members of the Parliament had been held hostage.  However, with the recent election, Fijians had put that era firmly behind them.  The country was currently enjoying the most sustained period of economic growth in its history, and the possibility to create more jobs and raise the living standards of the people had never been greater.

In this International Year of the Small Island Developing States, he said more concerted efforts were necessary to strengthen regional institutions to confront the enormous challenges faced in the Pacific region, namely population growth and unsustainable use of ocean resources.  History would judge the world’s major carbon emitters extremely harshly unless they took immediate and comprehensive steps to reduce emissions.

ENELE SOSENE SOPOAGA, Prime Minister of Tuvalu, noting his country was celebrating its thirty-sixth anniversary of independence next week, said his country was proud and committed to be a Member State of the United Nations.  However, he voiced sadness for the loss of lives and suffering of fellow human beings from crises the world over.  Such losses, due to terrorism, poverty and environmental degradation, Ebola, as well as political conflicts in the Middle East and Ukraine, were disturbing.

He said he wondered if leaders “really cared”, and if they meant what they said inside the General Assembly Hall.  A kindergartener recently asked him, “do we have a tomorrow, and can you save us?”  Yet, he had mixed feelings.  He was encouraged by the Climate Change Summit, but discouraged by the deniers of climate change.  The world must not be distracted by those deniers, but must focus on a strategic and pragmatic approach.

There was a lot of talk within the United Nations about creating a post-2015 development agenda, he observed, stressing that diverse circumstances and needs of the United Nations membership should be taken into account in its development.  The Organization must also improve its presence, particularly in vulnerable States, as global realities affected even the farthest, most remote island countries like Tuvalu.  The dedication of this year as the International Year for Small Island Developing States had concluded in many constructive partnerships to address the special needs of those States.  Commending those efforts, he also believed that the ultimate measure of success was the delivery of tangible actions on the ground that reflected and accommodated each unique and special place.

Juxtaposing Tuvalu’s 24 square kilometres of land against its 900,000 square kilometres of the Pacific Ocean, he said the sea had always been the “lifeline” for food and economic growth for his people.  The United Nations should honour the health of the ocean, as it was the earth’s life support system.  The seriousness and urgency of actions needed to combat climate change had also been echoed by youth leaders in the General Assembly.  Tuvalu was experiencing unprecedented life-threatening impacts from climate change.  At only two to three metres above sea-level, his country’s security and the future human rights of its citizens was being seriously compromised.  Calling for the international community to take action to halt climate change, he stated, “Do it.  Save us.”

AGILA SALEH ESSA GWAIDER, President of the House of Representatives of Libya, said that seeing the current fighting in his country, many might wonder where the unarmed revolutionaries of three years ago had gone, and ask “where are the intellectuals who flooded the media and convinced the world of the justice of their people’s cause?”  They were the true Libyan people.  But unfortunately, most of the activists had left the political arena, and armed groups were trying to impose their will on the Libyan people by force, violating people’s human rights, and blackmailing the Government for funds.

The armed groups were a coalition known as “Dawn of Libya”, and included a group with Al-Qaida ideology that had been placed on the list of terrorist groups by the United States and the European Union, he said.  Those groups aimed to derail Libya’s democratic transition.  The international community had to stand with the elected legitimate authorities and implement United Nations Security Council resolution 2174 (2014) by imposing sanctions on those hindering the political process and undermining security.  Not to do so would equal stating very clearly that Libyans had to face terrorism alone, he said.

The international community’s failure to provide arms and training to the Libyan army in its war against terrorism would negatively affect the stability of the region, ultimately threatening world peace, he continued.  Welcoming all efforts by “friendly countries”, he noted that illegitimate contact, unauthorized by the Government, would be considered an unfriendly act against the unity of Libya and its stability.  Libya’s House of Representatives and Government were determined to pursue the path of dialogue and tolerance in the framework of legitimacy to solve the problems and differences between Libyans.

His Government was calling on the international community to help in State-building so that it could “monopolize” the legitimate use of force, and ensure control over the capital, Tripoli.  The international community should also establish a “genuine and active” alliance between Libya and its neighbouring countries, both south and north of the Mediterranean, to cooperate in combating terrorism.  The initiation of a comprehensive dialogue for all Libyan people, with the help of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya, the Arab League and the African Union, was also requested.  Restoring security and stability in Libya was key to making further progress on the Millennium Development Goals.

TANASAK PATIMAPRAGORN, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Thailand, said that development was not just about gross domestic product.  To be sustainable, development must go hand-in-hand with democracy, human rights and peace and security — the pillars of the United Nations.  It also must be allowed to grow in an environment free from conflict.  His country had learned the lesson that democracy was more than elections.  Rather, it must be based on respect for the rule of law, and it must be about good governance, transparency, accountability and equal access to justice.  That had not been the case before 22 May, where there had been a dysfunctional democracy and the real possibility of bloodshed.

He said that situation had made a military intervention necessary.  But his country was not retreating from democracy; it just needed time and space to bring about reconciliation, undertake political reforms and strengthen democratic institutions.  The Thai Government was committed to playing an active role in building an Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) community of peace and prosperity and to addressing the many global challenges, such as climate change, transnational crime, pandemics, and human trafficking.

Some nations might have the capacity to do more than others, he suggested, but if all did their part, then the world would be better and safer.  That was why Thailand had sent volunteers to its neighbouring countries to work in health and education.  It also had sent medical teams to Japan in 2011 as part of the relief efforts following the earthquake and tsunami.  Thailand had submitted its candidature for a seat on the Human Rights Council for 2015-2017 and the Security Council for 2017-2018, he said, calling for support.

FRANK-WALTER STEINMEIER, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, said that 2014 was a special year for Europe, as it included commemorations of the hundredth anniversary of the commencement of the First World War, the seventy-fifth anniversary of Germany attacking Poland, the prelude to the Second World War, and the twenty-fifth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which had brought an end to the world’s decades-long division into East and West.  The world needed to ask itself what it had learned from those experiences.  The establishment of the United Nations was the most important lesson that history taught.  However, it was not enough simply to “call for the United Nations”; it was not a forum to shrug responsibility onto, but a forum through which responsibility was assumed.

Germany was prepared to take on responsibility in and with the United Nations, he said.  Next month, a conference would be hosted in Berlin to mobilize urgently needed assistance for millions of Syrian refugees.  Syria’s neighbours were under tremendous strain from the huge influx of displaced people.  Because the Ebola crisis was endangering the cohesion of entire societies in West Africa, Germany was sending humanitarian and medical assistance.  Long-term commitment under the World Health Organization’s (WHO) expertise and the United Nations coordinating umbrella was needed to deal with the crisis.

Some delegations might regard the ongoing conflict in Ukraine as nothing more than a regional conflict in Eastern Europe, he went on to say.  But the conflict was much more than that.  The conflict affected “each and every one of us” because a permanent member of the Security Council had, with its annexation of Crimea, “unilaterally changed existing borders in Europe and thus broken international law”.  The power of international law could not be allowed to erode from the inside.  As long as the Russian Federation and the West remained in conflict over Ukraine, the United Nations was threatened with paralysis. 

Turning to other issues, he said that the international community also had to tackle the “huge tasks” of the twenty-first century, namely the fight against climate change, privacy in the digital age, and the post-2015 development agenda.  His country, for its part, had shifted towards using renewable energies.  Germany had also taken initiative on the issue of digital privacy by introducing a resolution on the right to privacy in the digital age.  The United Nations, he emphasized, was “worth every effort”, for in it lived the world’s hope for peace and a legal order.

SERGEY V. LAVROV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said that the United States-led Western alliance that portrayed itself as a champion of democracy in fact acted from the direct opposite position and rejected the democratic principle of sovereign equality of States.  That alliance was trying to decide for everyone what was good and what was evil.  The United States Administration had openly declared what it believed to be its right to unilateral use of force anywhere to uphold its own interests.  Military interference had become the norm.

The sustainability of the international system had been severely shaken by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) bombardment of the then-Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, intervention in Iraq, attacks against Libya and the failure of operations in Afghanistan, he said.  It was only due to diplomatic efforts that the aggression against Syria was prevented in 2013.  There was an impression that the goal of various “colour revolutions” and other projects to change unsuitable regimes was to provoke chaos and instability.  Today, Ukraine had fallen victim to such an arrogant policy.  The situation there had revealed the remaining deep-rooted systemic flaws of the existing architecture in the Euro-Atlantic area.  The West had embarked upon the course towards “vertical structuring of humanity”, tailored to its own “hardly inoffensive” standards.

The United States and the European Union supported the coup d’état in Ukraine and reverted to outright justification of any acts by the self-proclaimed Kyiv authorities, he said.  Those authorities had opted for suppression by force of the Ukrainian people, who had rejected attempts to impose an unconstitutional way of life on the entire country, and who wanted to defend their rights to their native language and culture.  It was precisely the aggressive assault on those rights that propelled the population of Crimea to take destiny into its own hands and make a choice in favour of self-determination.  Attempts to distort the truth and to hide the facts behind “blanket accusations” had been undertaken at all stages of the Ukrainian crisis.  The Russian Federation was sincerely interested in restoring peace in “the neighbouring country”.  The ceasefire agreement signed by Presidents Petro Poroshenko and Vladimir Putin had created an opening to resolve the situation.

As a condition for establishing diplomatic relations with the then-Soviet Union in 1933, the United States Government had demanded that Moscow guarantee non-interference in the United States’ domestic affairs and not take any actions aimed at changing the United States’ political or social order, he said.  At that time, Washington, D.C., feared a “revolutionary virus”, and the guarantees it sought were put on record, on the basis of reciprocity.  Perhaps, it now made sense to return to that topic and reproduce that demand of the United States Government on a universal scale.  The policy of ultimatums and the philosophy of supremacy and domination did not meet the requirements of the twenty-first century, and ran counter to the objective process of development of a polycentric, democratic world order.

After commenting on various conflicts throughout the world, he noted that the United Nations had been established on the ruins of the Second World War, and was entering the year of its seventieth anniversary.  Everyone in the international community was obligated to celebrate in an appropriate manner and pay tribute to all who had died for freedom and the right of people to determine their own destiny.

WANG YI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of China, noted the number of important anniversaries this year, including the outbreak of the First World War and the seventieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War.  In China alone, more than 35 million Chinese soldiers and civilians had been left dead or injured by Japanese militarists.  The United Nations had been established to keep the “scourge” of those wars from happening again, and the Charter had laid out the vision of building a better world.  People should treat each other as equals, the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity must be upheld, and different countries’ pursuit of economic and social development had to be respected, he said.

However, the world was far from peaceful, he said, mentioning conflicts in Gaza, Iraq, the Central African Republic and in South Sudan.  Countries that placed their domestic law above international law, or even sought regime change, would have their legitimacy questioned by the international community.  In observing international law, he underscored that Chapter VII of the Charter was not the only means for the Security Council to maintain international peace and security.  Better and fuller use should be made of the means of prevention, mediation and conciliation, as stipulated in Chapter VI.

Turning to the situation in specific countries, he detailed his Government’s concerns regarding Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, South Sudan, and Afghanistan, as well as the Palestinian issue, the situation on the Korean peninsula and the Iranian nuclear issue.  On the subject of terrorism, he noted that the international community should take new measures to address new threats, focusing on combating religious extremism as well as cyber-terrorism, and stressed that there should be a global effort to “crack down hard and effectively” on the use of the Internet and other new means of communication by terrorists in recruitment, financing and plotting of terrorist attacks.

The Millennium Development Goals had contributed greatly to human survival, he said.  The post-2015 development agenda should have three goals, including a focus on poverty eradication, promoting inclusiveness, and ensuring implementation.  On the common challenge of climate change, his Government believed that all parties should work for the conclusion of negotiations by the end of 2015.  The new post-2020 climate change regime should be in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities to ensure a fairer and more effective arrangement for international cooperation on climate change.

PASQUALE VALENTINI, Minister for Foreign and Political Affairs of San Marino, said the often dramatic effects of climate change were one of the most serious threats to the future of humanity and a challenge that all States must face with commitment and determination.  The international community must also respond urgently and efficiently to the threat of a global outbreak posed by Ebola, which was engulfing some West African States.

Turning to conflicts across the globe, he said his country condemned the commission in all parties in Syria of violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law.  Concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, his Government had launched appeals to both parties to silence their guns and resort to dialogue, recognizing that that was the only way to achieve a peaceful coexistence.  As for the situation in Iraq, where ethnic and religious cleansing was ongoing and carried out with unprecedented violence, he expressed hope that interventions be coordinated under the United Nations’ auspices.

He also called attention to migration issues caused by the war that was being fought in some parts of North Africa, as well as the massacre of migrants from Africa to Asia and in the Mediterranean.  The crisis in Ukraine, he added, not only represented a serious threat to peace and security, but also had called into question the fundamental principles of territorial sovereignty and self-determination.  In light of those events, he urged the international community to enable the United Nations to intervene to protect the people and peacefully resolve disputes among States.

On both the Millennium Development Goals and the post-2015 development agenda, he said it was critical for all States to recognize the importance of the “family unit” in building a culture of inclusion for that was where primary relationships were developed.

SHEIKH ABDULLAH BIN ZAYED AL NAHYAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates, denounced terrorist organizations and their commission of brutal, criminal acts in the name of Islam.  Islam rejected such crimes as inconsistent with its moderate approach and principled position on the peaceful coexistence of all peoples.  The increased incidence of terrorism and extremism in the region, especially that perpetrated by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Sham (ISIS), posed threats beyond borders.  The current collective action to confront the threat of ISIS and other terrorist groups reflected the common conviction that the imminent danger must be addressed.  In short, civilized communities must succeed in eliminating the threat.

He also expressed concern at the deteriorating security conditions in Libya and their repercussions on the stability of neighbouring countries, and noted with alarm ISIS’s exploitation of the sectarian practices of the former Iraqi Government; it was threatening Iraq’s sovereignty and exploiting the chaos in Syria to achieve its purposes, without regard for sovereignty or national borders.  He called on the international community to take comprehensive measures to fight terrorist groups through a clear, unified strategy, including in all locations, wherever they existed.  Support for Governments facing security challenges was also of critical importance.  His country was building capacities and exchanging best practices on the issue, and was developing national policies to deter and eradicate the roots of terrorism.

The lack of tangible outcomes from negotiations between Palestine and Israel was disappointing, he said, condemning Israel’s aggression.  He rejected the continued occupation of three of his country’s islands by Iran, calling on the international community to urge that country to respond to his calls for a just settlement.  At the same time, he welcomed the ongoing negotiations to find a comprehensive settlement of Iran’s nuclear programme, while also noting the important role of nuclear energy in meeting the world’s energy demands.  The United Arab Emirates was a successful model of the use of nuclear energy in a way that was transparent, safe and secure.  On the post-2015 development agenda, he supported sustainable energy for all, and, among other things, gender equality and women’s empowerment.  His country’s achievements in the latter area gave it a prominent place among nations.  He also urged all parties to abide by climate change agreements, with developed countries taking the lead.

BRUNO RODRÍGUEZ PARRILLA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cuba, called for an end to the foreign intervention in Syria.  He said it was “inconceivable” that western Powers encouraged, financed and armed terrorist groups to pit them against one State, while attempting to combat those groups’ crimes in another, as was being seen in Iraq.  The United States Government was infringing upon international law by launching unilateral bombings with complete disregard for national borders or the sovereignty of States, with “doubtful” coalitions.  He also warned that the attempt to deploy the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to Russian borders would have serious consequences for Europe’s stability, and pursuant to that, called the sanctions against the Russian Federation “immoral and unjust”.

Concerning small island developing States, he said that the Havana Summit had recognized that they, including the Caribbean nations, had been hit hard by the current economic, financial and environmental crisis.  He added that their efforts to enhance the living standards of their peoples should not be punished by classifying the country as “middle-income” based on the schematic estimation of per capita incomes, which overlooked their peculiarities and vulnerabilities.

Speaking on the blockade, he said that the United States State Department had again included Cuba in its unilateral and arbitrary list of State sponsors of international terrorism.  Its true purpose, he added, was to increase the persecution of his country, constraining international financial transactions and justifying the blockade.  Under the present United States Administration, there had been an unprecedented tightening of the blockade’s “extra-territorial” character, with a “remarkable and unheard-of” emphasis on financial transactions through the imposition of multi-million dollar fines on the banking institutions of third countries.

SEBASTIAN KURZ, Federal Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs of Austria, said that the crisis in Ukraine was the most serious challenge to peace and security that Europe had faced in decades.  It was unacceptable that international law had been breached and that established borders had been challenged in Europe once again.  A ceasefire would not be enough; a lasting political solution resulting in a free, stable and united Ukraine was needed.  There must not be a return to a divisive, cold-war mentality.  Instead, progress must be made from a policy of “either Europe or Russia” to one of “both Europe and Russia”.

Looking beyond Europe, the world was witnessing a rise in extremism in the name of religion, he said.  On that issue, there was no time to lose; the events unfolding in Iraq must be addressed, as the so-called “Islamic State” was attempting to eliminate entire religious communities with the aid of a new phenomenon: foreign fighters.  Thousands held European passports and benefited from global communication and financing networks, he noted.  All had a duty to develop preventive measures to stop the flow of foreign terrorist fighters and cut off their financial support, he urged, adding that the adoption of the Security Council resolution on this issue was an important first step. 

Turning to the post-2015 development goals, he noted that Vienna was fully behind the new agenda.  However, it must be ensured that respect for human rights and the rule of law received adequate attention.  Only in societies that respected their citizens’ rights would individual potential be able to thrive.  For that reason, Austria was honoured to be hosting the Second United Nations Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries in November.  The country was also proud to host a United Nations Office in its capital, and to support the Organization through its membership in the Human Rights Council, presidency of the Economic and Social Council, and peacekeeping contributions.

ANTONI MARTÍ PETIT, Head of Government of Andorra, said that this year marked 100 years since the beginning of the First World War.  Countries’ foreign activities, focused exclusively on national interests, had proven to be the cause of conflicts, with the two World Wars highlighting the need for a global order to ensure peace and security.  He went on to say that the situations in Palestine and Ukraine would not be resolved with a partial or short-term perspective.  Any solution that steered away from the United Nations founding principles would be unstable, and would only lead to a new conflict.

He said that the appearance of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq required urgent attention.  There could be no justification for the group’s criminal acts of barbarism and terrorism, for murdering innocent people in cold blood.  Nor was there room for inaction or impunity, and with that, he urged the international community to respond to the threat of foreign combatants.

Speaking on the essential role of education, he highlighted the need for a vision that integrated long-term thinking.  The only way to achieve global awareness of the United Nations values was through education, which he called the best “weapon against hate and violence”.  His Government prioritized education in its activities at home and abroad, and was proud of its participation in the Global Education First Initiative.  Noting the two-fold focus on education, local and global, he said that cooperation among States strengthened the quality of education systems.

Concerning climate change, he spoke about his country’s first-hand experience of its effects, with global warming jeopardizing its tourism sector.  His Government was working with its citizens through education, awareness-raising and policies to reduce the climate impact.  But that was not enough, he warned.  National environmental policies were important, but to limit carbon dioxide emissions, there must be a global commitment and an effective implementation of all pledges.  The international community had a year to prepare for the Paris conference and to mobilize its efforts, he concluded.

PHAM BINH MINH, Deputy Prime Minister of Viet Nam, said peace and security were prerequisites for sustainable development, and establishing it was an urgent task that required long-term engagement.  Respect for international law was the foundation of peace, security and stability for sustainability.  All nations should renounce the use of force as an option in international relations and settle disputes by peaceful means.  In that context, he looked forward to substantive progress in peace negotiations on the Middle East, recognizing the fundamental national rights of the Palestinian people, and noting his concern over escalating violence in Iraq.  Condemning all acts of terror, he criticized unilateral economic sanctions against developing countries, such as Cuba.

Calling for completion of the Millennium Development Goals by their target date, he said the post-2015 development agenda should add momentum to sustainable development in each country and encourage economic linkages.  More United Nations actions and resources should be brought to bear to address social injustices and inequalities and stronger support was needed for regional and subregional programmes on issues like connectivity, poverty reduction, and the green economy.  The United Nations had to adapt itself to a changing world through accelerated reform, particularly of the Security Council’s membership and working methods. 

He was committed to resolving the East Sea (South China Sea) issue peacefully, abiding by the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and working for early adoption of the Code of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.  He supported strengthening multilateral trade, welcoming efforts to enhance economic links and to reform global trade governance for better equality, democracy, transparency and efficiency.  Work continued to establish an ASEAN community with common rules and norms and cooperation on economic, political-security, and sociocultural matters.  Viet Nam participated in the Human Rights Council and United Nations peacekeeping in South Sudan, and was a candidate for membership of the Economic and Social Council and the Security Council.

EVANGELOS VENIZELOS, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece, associating with the European Union, called for Security Council reform as well as a legally binding climate change agreement.  The Climate Summit had been a chance to intensify in that regard.  On Ebola, he commended the United Nations establishment of an emergency mission.  Touching on other areas of interest to his country, he urged regional and international cooperation to resolve crises in the Middle East, North Africa and Eastern Europe.  The humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine also was worrying, he said, voicing support for the Minsk agreement as a precursor to an inclusive accord that respected Ukraine’s territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty.  He urged dialogue on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and in Syria, underlined the importance of solution in light of the “barbaric actions” of jihadist groups there and along the Iraqi-Syrian border.  He welcomed the Security Council resolution on foreign terrorist fighters and called for protection of journalists.

He said that Western Balkan States should integrate into the European Union, but first needed to implement reforms to meet the Union’s standards, and ensure good-neighbourly relations.  The Belgrade-Pristina talks were an example of such progress.  Among other things, he voiced support for the European and Euroatlantic perspective of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, noting that Greece was among the top foreign direct investors there.  Although he respected the United Nations directive on that country’s name, he said the critical issues concerned democracy, rule of law, human rights, inter-ethnic harmony and press freedom, all of which required “tangible steps”. 

Turning to Cyprus, he expressed support for dialogue within the framework of the 2014 joint communiqué and confidence-building measures.  A just and viable solution had to align with Security Council resolutions, high-level agreements and the joint communiqué, and the Cypriot people should agree to any solution reached through a referendum.  He meanwhile supported maintaining the mandate of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP).

RI SU YONG, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, commended the successes of the Millennium Development Goals, notably the reduction of poverty by half over the first 15 years of the millennium.  His country had overcome severe hardships during that time, among them, an economic blockade, military threat and political obstruction, to safeguard its national dignity, deter war and put a stagnant economy back on track.  Citing national achievements in construction, the fishing industry and livestock farming, among others, he said that the post-2015 development agenda should focus on creating a favourable environment for attaining a common sustainable socioeconomic development for humankind, while consolidating successes of the Millennium Goals.

He went on to say that the United Nations and international relations must be made more democratic and rest on respect for sovereignty and non–interference in the internal affairs of other nations.  The Security Council was still mired in the cold-war paralysis; its anachronistic stereotypes and prejudices could find their most extreme expression in the prevailing situation on the Korean peninsula.  Also evident was the unwillingness to take up the issue of “United States-South Korea” joint military exercises, aimed at taking over Pyongyang, a matter his country had officially referred to the Council.  Why were such exercises, with the participation of more than 500,000 troops, needed on the Korean peninsula nearly a quarter century after the end of the cold war, he asked.  The tense situation on the peninsula was a serious obstacle to his country’s economic development.

In that context, he said the Security Council must stop “showcasing the extreme manifestation of the double standard”, noting, in particular, that the military exercises waged by a permanent member “is covered up with no regard to their serious threat to peace and security, whereas those conducted by a UN Member State in response is called into question”.  The Council should “no longer serve as a forum for telling lies”, he said, recalling the statement made 11 years ago in the Council by a permanent member that “there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq”.  That, he said, was “a big lie of the century”.  Council reform would revolutionize the Organization and render international relations more democratic.  His country’s decision to become a nuclear-weapon State was due to the “hostile policy, nuclear threat and stifling strategy” of the United States.  The nuclear issue would be resolved “if and when” the threat to his country’s sovereignty and right to life was removed.  National unification should be achieved not through “confrontation of systems”, but by two systems co-existing in one country.

RAMTANE LAMAMRA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Algeria, said the Non-Aligned Movement had reaffirmed the right to development and the need to eradicate poverty, which were central to the post-2015 development agenda.  The agenda also should include responses to desertification and access to genetic resources.  Algeria coordinated the movement on revitalization of the General Assembly and would work with the African Union “C-10” group on Security Council reform, which was vital to redress historical injustices suffered by the African continent.  He also advocated strengthening of African Union-United Nations partnerships, particularly on conflict response.  He looked forward to the review of the question of Western Sahara, stressing support for the inalienable right of the people there to self-determination as well as for regional integration.

He described President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s five-year plan, which hinged on factors including modernizing democracy, reform of the judiciary and strengthening of gender equality.  Investments would be made in sectors such as agriculture, energy, and the environment.  Algeria’s commitment to international partnerships meant rejection of unilateral measures like the embargo imposed on Cuba.  He urged international assistance for African countries hit by the Ebola epidemic, and noted Algeria’s cooperation on African peace and security matters.  The Algiers Process had helped to launch substantive negotiations between Mali’s Government and movements in the North, while a two-fold Algerian initiative in Libya aimed to foster dialogue, national reconciliation and institution-building. 

He urged expanded efforts to thwart terrorism in the Sahel region,  promising cooperation as co-chair of the working group on the Sahel.  There was a need for borders to be secured and abductions to be prevented, as demonstrated clearly by the crises in Iraq and Syria and the recent killing of a French citizen in Algeria.  Noting the outcome of the high-level Security Council meeting on terrorism and foreign combatants, he turned to the question of Palestine, calling for justice in finding a solution.  The Ninth Conference of Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) was set to focus on the close relationship between disarmament, non-proliferation and the peaceful use of atomic energy.  He concluded by highlighting Algeria’s participation in the Human Rights Council and its national legislation to improve rights and equality.

OLDEMIRO MARQUES BALÓI, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Mozambique, said it was important to accelerate the achievement of all the Millennium Development Goals and guarantee the sustainability of those that had been achieved.  The objective of the next development agenda should be the eradication of poverty, ensuring the promotion of equitable, sustainable and inclusive economic growth, with a focus on women and youth.  Greater commitment was needed from development partners to fund official development assistance and greater climate resilience and disaster prevention efforts in developing countries.  A transformative post-2015 development agenda should include strengthening financing mechanisms, concomitant with raising domestic financing.

Further, the successful conclusion of the Doha Development Round was urgent.  A transformative development agenda should also reflect Africa’s priorities as expressed in its common position on the post-2015 development agenda.  That could only occur in the context of peace and stability.  Pointing out the grave instability and dramatic evolution of terrorism threats, he welcomed the Security Council’s call for an urgent boost in international cooperation to prevent the support and flow of terrorist fighters to and from conflict zones.  A collective strategy should strengthen multilateral approaches and address terrorism’s root causes.  Achievements in restoring peace and stability in a number of African nations pointed to the importance of coordination between the United Nations and the African Union.

Stressing that the right to self-determination was central to human rights, he said the United Nations must help the peoples of Palestine and Western Sahara to realize those rights.  He then turned to Security Council reform, noting that the Organization’s inability to solve conflict situations and political instability in the Middle East and Eastern Europe posed a challenge to its authority as the multilateral political forum to foster dialogue.  On domestic matters, he spoke of his country’s strengthening democracy, steady economic growth and newly discovered natural resources, which could advance socioeconomic progress.  Developing new sources of clean and renewable energy was a priority for the Government.

RUI MACHETE, Minister of State and Foreign Affairs of Portugal, asked the Assembly to support its candidacy for the Human Rights Council.  If elected for the 2015-2017 term, it would be the first time Portugal would serve as a member of that body.  Portugal had consistently upheld human rights and the second universal periodic review by the Council had acknowledged its strong human rights record.  Already, the country had submitted resolutions to the Human Rights Council on the right to education, as well as economic, social and cultural rights.  During its membership on the Security Council during the 2011-2012 period, Portugal had consistently promoted the human rights agenda.

He highlighted the turmoil in Northern Africa during 2010 and 2011, which he said had had an unprecedented political, economic and social impact on countries in the region.  Those countries were now confronted with challenges related to the consolidation of political reforms, sustainable economic growth and security.  As a Co-Chair of the Western Mediterranean Forum, or ‘5+5’ initiative, Portugal wished to strengthen the contribution of this platform in enhancing cooperation amongst its 10 member states.  The situation in Libya — an important partner of the 5+5 forum — was deteriorating and the international community must give its assistance to the political transition process taking place in that country.

As a significant political, business and investment partner to African States, Portugal also sought to contribute to international efforts aimed at stabilizing conflicts and mitigating security risks on the continent.  To that end, Portugal was participating in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and stood ready to engage in multinational efforts to strengthen the security of the Gulf of Guinea.  In particular, it would be willing to help enhance the maritime capabilities of countries in the region.  He praised the restoration of constitutional order in Guinea-Bissau, which despite socioeconomic difficulties and political instability was able to conduct free, fair and orderly elections.  The opportunity to “turn the page” on history must now be seized; Guinean-Bissau’s people were taking the right steps.

LUBOMÍR ZAORÍÁLEK, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, said that while a large part of Europe had been spared from violent conflicts for almost 70 years, a part of it today was still at war.  The territorial integrity of Ukraine had been violated by the Russian Federation’s annexation of Crimea and the activities of the Russian-backed paramilitary separatist forces in eastern Ukraine.  In the Middle East, the security situation in northern Iraq had continued to worsen, with brutal acts of violence being committed by the so-called Islamic State.  Concerning Syria, he said the only way to achieve a stable peace in that war-torn country was through a negotiated political settlement between the Syrian Government and the democratic opposition.  With respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, his Government had made an effort to provide humanitarian assistance to the victims.

In view of those armed conflicts, he said the international community must share the responsibility of protecting people from atrocities.  However, if it failed to do so, it was necessary to establish accountability for serious violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law.  With respect to violence against women and girls, all States should adopt urgent measures to prevent such abhorrent incidents.  As a supporter of the “Rights Up Front” initiative launched by the Secretary-General and a member of the Human Rights Council, his country had presented for the second time a consensual resolution on political participation.

Turning to the Assembly’s development agenda, he said the promotion of good governance, rule of law, human rights and the empowerment of women must remain as priorities.  Further, all countries — rich or poor — should be committed to creating a future that was economically viable and sustainable environmentally and socially.  In that regard, his country looked forward to being a member of the Economic and Social Council beginning in 2016.

ARNOLD NICHOLSON, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Jamaica, welcomed the support of the international community in joining forces with small island developing States to negotiate the Samoa Pathway outcome document.  The ability of those countries to withstand economic and environmental shocks rested upon their ability to forge partnership with other members of the global family.  Within the context of the post-2015 development agenda, concerns related to the integration of those island States into the multilateral trading system, participation in the global financial system, and resilience to natural hazards had to be addressed.

While the threats posed by climate change may be theoretical for some, it was very real for those who lived in the Caribbean, he said.  In recent years, countries in that region had to deal with an increased frequency of hurricanes, along with the burden of their substantial economic impact.  Ahead of the Conference of Parties in Peru, all Member States had to be engaged in devising an appropriate response to climate change.  Action was needed on the decision of the Conference to adopt a protocol, legal instrument or agreed outcome with legal force under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change that would be applicable to all parties.

He also reiterated Jamaica’s commitment to disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control.  Fuelled by the drug trade, the impact of the proliferation of small arms and lights weapons had been widely felt in his region.  It was encouraging, however, that with the fiftieth ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty earlier this week, that historic treaty would soon enter into force.  All States had a role to play in the maintenance of international peace and security.  For that reason, Jamaica was honoured to assume the Chairmanship of the First Committee of the General Assembly’s sixty-ninth session, reflecting its commitment to advancing disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control.

ZARAR AHMAD OSMANI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan, said that his country had achieved a significant milestone with the successful conclusion of the presidential election, including the recounting of votes.  He was confident that the new Government, with the full backing of a vast majority of Afghans, would strive to bring about political, security and socioeconomic prosperity to the country, the region and beyond.

Speaking on extremism and terrorism, he said that despite some tangible results, that phenomenon remained a threat to the security, development and peace in his country and the region.  The Afghan forces were providing security independently across the country despite increasing acts of terrorism, which were supported by terrorists outside Afghanistan’s borders.  He added that his country strongly believed in good relations with neighbouring Pakistan, but, at the same time, was seriously concerned about the rocket attacks by Pakistani forces.

On Millennium Development Goals, he commended the progress made in achieving most of the targets, particularly those related to health and universal primary education.  Afghanistan was committed to achieving most of the Goals by 2020 and considered the post-2015 agenda its top priority.  Moving to the Middle East, he expressed his Government’s full support for the establishment of an independent Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital, and for a political resolution in Syria, reached through a broad-based national dialogue that met the aspirations of all Syrians.

Right of Reply

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Iran responded to the issue of the Iranian islands raised by the United Arab Emirates, reiterating that his country maintained full sovereignty of the islands of Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs in the Persian Gulf.  Iran expressed its willingness to enter into discussions on that matter with the United Arab Emirates to clarify any misunderstanding that may have occurred on the issue.

The representative of Pakistan, also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, responded to earlier remarks made by India’s Foreign Minister, who used the term “Pakistan-occupied Kashmir”.  He wished to clarify that the correct and historic name of that territory was instead “Jammu and Kashmir”.  Pakistan condemned terrorism and underscored diplomacy in resolving disputes.

The representative of India rejected the remarks made by Pakistan and noted that they were willing to engage in dialogue “without the shadow of terror and fear”.  Raising issues in the forum would only derail future efforts of reaching a peaceful settlement.

The representative of Pakistan, taking the floor again, noted that it was India, not Pakistan, that had blocked the dialogue on the issue at the Foreign Minister level.  Despite what India claimed, that issue had not been resolved in accordance to the Security Council resolution.  He stressed that terrorism was a common threat that “we must all work towards defeating”.

The representative of India took the floor to reject in their entirety the comments made by Pakistan.

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