|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-ninth General Assembly
17th, 18th & 19th Meetings (AM, PM & Night)
Fears of Widespread Indifference, Attempts to Create ‘Pseudo-Religious’
World Government Dominate Debate in General Assembly
Countries at Epicentre of Ebola Crisis Discuss
Lack of Preparedness, Potential for Political Crisis
There was a danger of “widespread indifference” when a union of States was passive in the face of hostilities suffered by defenceless populations, the Holy See’s Secretary of State told the General Assembly on the penultimate day of its annual debate.
He said the dramatic situation in northern Iraq and some parts of Syria was exposing a new phenomenon — that of a terrorist organization vowing to dissolve States and replace them with a “pseudo-religious” world government. He cautioned against succumbing to “exaggerated views and cultural extrapolations”, which, he said, would only lead to xenophobia and paradoxically reinforce the sentiments at the heart of terrorism, itself.
To counter the attraction of terrorism for young, disillusioned people, he urged the General Assembly to focus on addressing the cultural and political origins of contemporary challenges and to further study the effectiveness of successfully implemented international law. Aware that cultural openness alone would not counter the global nature of terrorism, he stressed that the international legal framework was the only bulwark against the new threats.
The point was echoed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland, who called “extremely troubling” the increasing disregard for international law as demonstrated by the growing terrorist group operating in Iraq and Syria - the self-styled Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Sham (ISIL/ISIS). Equally shocking, he said, was “the suffering of the Syrian people and the total disrespect for humanitarian law in that country’s civil war.
But Syria’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, speaking at today’s meeting, said that implementing resolutions and conducting military strikes could help fight terrorism, but it was more important to stop States from arming, training, funding and facilitating the transit of terrorist groups. Pressure for that purpose should be exerted on the countries that had joined the coalition led by the United States.
In his region, he urged the establishment of a Middle East free of all weapons of mass destruction. That was not achievable without Israel’s accession to all relevant treaties, by which it would have to put all its facilities under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Israel’s Prime Minister, also speaking on the nuclear issue, said that Iran, was trying to “bamboozle” its way to an agreement to remove sanctions, to become a nuclear Power. He warned that Iran, the world’s most dangerous regime, in the most dangerous region, would obtain the world’s most dangerous weapons. There was only one course of action: fully dismantling that country’s nuclear capabilities. ISIS must be defeated, but to defeat ISIS and leave Iran as a threshold nuclear Power was to win the battle and lose the war.
More generally, he said hopes for peace were in danger. Everywhere, “militant Islam” was on the march. Its first victims had been other Muslims, but it spared no one. For them, all politics were global, because their ultimate goal was to dominate the world. It started out small, like a cancer that attacked a particular part of the body. But, if left unchecked, the cancer would metastasize over wider and wider areas. That cancer must be removed before it was too late.
Representing a country at the epicentre of another transnational crisis, Ebola, the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Sierra Leone said his country was on the front lines of one of the “biggest life-and-death challenges” facing a global community “grossly ill-prepared” to tackle the spread. The outbreak had drawn attention to globally weak infrastructure, as well as to inadequate human capital and surveillance systems. While the United Nations response deserved praise, more resources were still needed, he said, stressing that it was the Organization’s duty to “confront human insecurity and not shun it”.
Also at the forefront of the Ebola epidemic was neighbouring Liberia, whose Minister for Foreign Affairs highlighted a host of emergency measures taken by the Government to address the “crystallized denial” that had created a fertile ground for the spread of the disease. The country’s public health system had collapsed under the weight of the deadly virus. Ebola was not just a health crisis, he warned, it was an economic crisis, a social crisis and a potential political and security crisis. While positive steps had recently been made, the international community must also address the virus’ long-term socioeconomic impact.
Also speaking in the debate at senior levels of Government were representatives of Sao Tome and Principe, Angola, Swaziland, Guinea-Bissau, Vanuatu, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Bahrain, Liechtenstein, Kyrgyzstan, Botswana, Myanmar, Philippines, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, New Zealand, Singapore, Ireland, Uruguay, Monaco, Grenada, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Yemen, Lesotho, Seychelles, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Togo and Sweden.
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply was the representative of Iran.
The General Assembly will meet again at 9 a.m., 30 September, to conclude its annual debate.
GABRIEL ARCANJO FERREIRA DA COSTA, Prime Minister of Sao Tome and Principe, said that peace and security around the world was essential for development, and he stressed the urgency of accelerated United Nations reform to allow the Organization to address new challenges with greater dynamism, representation, effectiveness, capacity and legitimacy.
Turning to conflicts around the world, he said that continued international collaboration on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali and Guinea-Bissau was essential to those countries’ efforts towards peace. He congratulated the political actors in Mozambique for signing a peace agreement and avoiding more suffering and loss of human life. He welcomed the deployment of a peacekeeping force in the Central African Republic, stating it was imperative for conflicting parties in South Sudan and Western Sahara to engage in negotiations towards mutually acceptable solutions.
Pointing to a resurgence of terrorist acts across the globe, he said the international community must coordinate its actions to fight the scourge. He expressed concern, in particular, over the actions of Boko Haram in Nigeria and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Sham (ISIL/ISIS) in the Middle East, as well as the long-standing hostilities between Israel and Palestine, and conflicts in Syria and Ukraine.
On piracy, which he said strongly affected all countries bordering the Gulf of Guinea, he said his country had drafted a legislative framework for the modernization of its armed forces that focused on maritime protection. At the subregional level, the country was working to implement the recommendations of the Yaoundé Summit as part of the partnership between the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the Gulf of Guinea Commission.
Speaking on a range of other issues, he said that tackling the effects of climate change was a responsibility that must be shared by developed and developing countries. He renewed his country’s call for the embargo on Cuba to be lifted to allow that country to address its economic and social development challenges. On Ebola, he said synergies must be identified to save the thousands of lives threatened by the virus. He called for Taiwan’s extended participation in United Nations platforms, including those that concerned climate change and the post-2015 development agenda.
MANUEL DOMINGOS VICENTE, Vice-President of Angola, encouraged the Organization to pay special attention to the resurgence of armed conflicts, among other areas. In that context, he condemned acts committed by terrorist groups and expressed support for efforts towards their neutralization and towards strengthening the United Nations crisis management capacity, emphasizing that dialogue and negotiation were the best means of resolving conflicts. He also noted his country’s role in the peace processes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic and the Great Lakes region. He then expressed concern at the Ebola epidemic, which required a decisive commitment from the international community.
He said that the Security Council must reflect equitable geographical representation by increasing the number of permanent members, and reiterated the right of the African continent to such status. Lamenting the lack of progress in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he said it was a major cause of instability in the Middle East and a root cause of the resurgence of terrorism in the region. He called for political will from both parties, and encouraged the Secretary-General and the United States Secretary of State to continue mediation efforts. He also called for dialogue between the parties in the Ukraine crisis to find a political solution. Noting some progress in the situation in Somalia and South Sudan, he urged their authorities and the international community to continue efforts towards stabilization.
Turning to the Millennium Development Goals, he said that developing economies continued to face barriers to economic growth caused by the global economic and financial crisis, but noted that, even so, African countries could boast an average annual growth rate of 5 per cent and improvements in several human development indicators. Angola’s national development plan for 2013-2017 focused on providing social services to the population, diversifying the economy and consolidating macroeconomic stability. In closing, he expressed appreciation to those countries supporting Angola’s candidature as a non-permanent member of the Security Council, stating that, in that post, it would work with partners to contribute to the world’s peace and security.
BARNABAS SIBUSISO DLAMINI, Prime Minister of Swaziland, said that the outbreak of Ebola in some parts of the African continent was a new challenge facing the global community. Adding that it was also a serious drawback to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals, he urged the United Nations and Member States to “spare no effort” in providing all the necessary assistance to curb the disease. He thanked the General Assembly for having convened the High-level Meeting of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, noting that indigenous knowledge and practices substantially contributed to the sustainable development agenda.
He said that he was pleased that sufficient political support had been mobilized through the Climate Change Summit to guide the Conference of Parties on Climate Change to be held in Lima in December. Climate change had a direct effect on many African countries’ national objectives to produce enough food for their populations. The theme of the 2014 General Assembly, “Delivering on and Implementing a Transformative Post-2014 Development Agenda”, resonated well with his Government’s call for an inclusive development programme, he commented.
He was “heartened”, he said, to note that the international community had not forgotten its collective inability to meet all the Millennium Development Goals. Commending the co-chairs of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development for their work, he welcomed the goals and targets contained in the group’s outcome document. Returning to the topic of food security, he stressed that the issue remained a critical challenge for Africa. He reiterated his Government’s call for financial assistance, technology transfer and technical assistance so that international development goals could be achieved.
The African Union’s road map for development remained critical for the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals, he said. Pointing to bountiful investment opportunities in Africa, he urged that the development needs of the continent be accounted for the post-2015 development agenda. On other topics, he welcomed the fact that Taiwan Province of China continued to contribute to global efforts, and he urged that country’s full participation in all United Nations structures. Noting that thousands of people around the world were living in fear or losing their lives to terrorism and other violence, he called upon all those engaged in conflict to find lasting, peaceful solutions to their problems through dialogue.
DOMINGOS SIMõES PEREIRA, Prime Minister of Guinea-Bissau, expressed gratitude for contributions to the process of political normalization in his country by the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS), ECOWAS and other partners. Stating that the post-conflict country still faced a “complex and difficult” situation, he called for further international assistance to consolidate stability in the current post-election period. Priorities in that context were strengthening the State’s institutional capacity, reducing poverty and other vulnerabilities of the population, ensuring social stability, legitimizing the Government and re-launching the economy.
The Government agenda, he said, had three components: an urgent programme, to provide basic services, ensure food and livelihood, prevent the spread of Ebola and pay civil servants overdue salaries; a contingent programme, to ensure transparency and end the corruption that resulted in what he called the plundering of the country’s forestry and fishery resources; and a medium-term development programme, which would be submitted to partners in a donor conference to be held late this year or early next year. Confidence in the country was enhanced by the national Parliament’s recent unanimous approval of these programmes, and international cooperation must be based on them in order for the country “to change course and become viable”. For mobilizing such aid, he requested reactivation of the International Contact Group on Guinea-Bissau.
On other issues, he called for enhanced international support for battling the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. He also reaffirmed his country’s support for the African Union’s position on Security Council reform, expressed solidarity with peoples and countries that had fallen victim to terrorist attacks and reiterated the call to lift the embargo on Cuba. He stressed that the post-2015 development agenda must be based on the objective realities of world peoples, and must draw its inspiration from the lessons of the Millennium Development Goals.
On climate change, he applauded United Nations efforts to bring the issue to the fore and said that the human, economic and environmental losses in vulnerable countries such as his own were already felt. They threatened chances for development and survival itself. The rise of sea-levels was particularly worrisome for Guinea-Bissau. Despite challenges, the country had set aside 12 per cent of its territory in protected zones, mostly consisting of forests, to be doubled by 2020. As most of the population depended on forests and other natural resources for survival, however, those initiatives must be offset through financial and technological cooperation. He finally thanked a range of United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations for their development work in his country, and affirmed that Guinea-Bissau was poised for a future of peace, human security and openness.
JOE NATUMAN, Prime Minister of Vanuatu, said that vulnerability must be considered when identifying whether a least developed country was ready to graduate from that status. Recognizing the Committee on Development Policy, and the Economic and Social Council’s review, which had determined his country’s eligibility, he noted it also allowed for a grace period of four years for a “smooth transition”. However, he cautioned that the country’s ongoing vulnerability as a small island developing State must also be addressed. In that regard, the Government was examining the benefits it might lose, with a view to negotiating retention of certain concessions vital to sustaining economic development. It was important not to lose sight of the real issue, vulnerability, by focussing on “smooth transition”.
While his country had made progress on the Millennium Development Goals, it would be difficult to achieve all by 2015, he said. The country’s narrow revenue base, coupled with a population dispersed among 83 islands, made it difficult to deliver basic services. He appealed to developed countries to honour their commitments to increase their aid to 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).
He also said that he looked forward to the rhetoric of the Climate Change Summit being translated into urgent action, emphasizing that climate change must be one of the most important elements in the Sustainable Development Goals. A target below 1.5˚C above pre-industrial levels must be part of those targets. Development partners should work in harmony and in the true spirit of partnership to fulfil the dreams of his people, particularly of the younger and vulnerable generation. The United Nations should accept the views of the Commonwealth Heads of Governments as additional input in the post-2015 development agenda.
Underscoring the unfinished business of decolonization, he noted that part of his country’s sovereign territory was still in dispute by one of its former colonial Powers. He expressed delight that the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples had brought the matter to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, and that France had responded with an openness to dialogue. He also voiced support for the conclusions and recommendations in the report of the United Nations mission to New Caledonia, and called on the Organization and the international community to continue supporting the efforts of New Caledonia and France to implement a successful decolonization process under the Noumea Accord.
He further called on the Organization, through its regional agencies, to provide assistance to New Caledonia, in particular the Front de Liberation Nationale Kanak et Socialiste and the Kanak people, through training that would enable them to fully participate in that Accord. Noting that concerns for vulnerability, sustainable development, fisheries, job creation and human rights, among others, were reflected in the Samoa Pathway document, he urged that it be integrated into a transformative post-2015 development agenda, and that gaps in the implementation of Barbados Programme of Action be closed.
PIETRO PAROLIN, Secretary of State for the Holy See, said that Pope Francis had observed a danger of widespread indifference. When a union of States remained passive in the face of hostilities suffered by defenceless populations, the General Assembly had to deepen its understanding of the difficult and complex events occurring at present time. The “dramatic” situation in northern Iraq and some parts of Syria was showing the international community a new phenomenon, that of a terrorist organization threatening all States, vowing to dissolve them and replace them with a pseudo-religious world government. Such violence was borne out of a disregard for God and falsified religion itself.
To counter young, disillusioned people from around the world being attracted to that new phenomenon, he urged the General Assembly to focus on addressing the cultural and political origins of contemporary challenges, and also to further study the effectiveness of successfully implemented international law. The challenges posed by the new forms of terrorism should not make the international community succumb to “exaggerated views and cultural extrapolations”, he noted. That would only lead to reactions of a xenophobic nature, which would paradoxically reinforce the sentiments at the heart of terrorism itself. The paths open to the international community were then in promoting dialogue and in a true commitment to peace.
Nonetheless, the threat of terrorism could not be faced with cultural openness alone, he said, stressing that “the important path of international law is also available to us”. The global nature of the new terrorism was precisely why the framework of international law offered the only viable way of dealing with the urgent challenge it presented. It was urgent to stop aggression through multilateral action and a proportionate use of force. However, that the international community had responded to conflicts in Syria, the Middle East and Ukraine with contradictory voices and with silence was disappointing.
He also pointed out that, in regards to development and poverty, the principle of “responsibility to protect” applied to the protection of people against forms of aggression, such as a financial system governed only by speculation and the maximization of profits. Social and economic justice, he underscored, was an essential condition for peace.
WALID AL-MOUALEM, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Syria, said that the 15 August Security Council resolution that condemned abuse of human rights by extremist groups in his country and Iraq had not stopped some regional States from continuing to provide support to terrorist organizations. In addition, the United States was applying double standards by providing money and weapons to groups it called “moderate”. Implementing resolutions and conducting military strikes could help fight terrorism, but it was more important to stop States from arming, training, funding and facilitating the transit of terrorist groups. Pressure for that purpose should be exerted on the countries that had joined the coalition led by the United States.
Syria, he said, had unconditionally agreed to attend the Geneva II Conference, and had done so with an open mind. But, the delegation negotiating with his Government was following the orders of its Western masters, and did not believe in combating terrorism, nor did it respect Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Now, however, the international community was adopting the Syrian perspective that fighting terrorism topped all priorities. With regard to ending the conflict, he said Syrians had made their choice in legitimate presidential elections, but his Government was open to a political solution with a “real” opposition that aimed for prosperity, stability and security.
He said that inhumane sanctions imposed by the European Union and the United States had aggravated the living conditions of Syrians, and some States had put Syrian refugees in military camps or other places of detention. His Government, on the other hand, guaranteed a safe return and decent life for those willing to repatriate. In addition, Syria had fulfilled its obligations regarding chemical weapons. Were it not for Syrian cooperation, the Joint Mission of the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons would not have completed their tasks. “The big question that remains is whether those who are supplying the terrorists with this and other types of weapons will stop their actions and abide by international law,” he said.
Turning to other issues, he called for establishing a Middle East free of all weapons of mass destruction, which he said was not achievable without the accession of Israel to all relevant treaties, putting all its facilities under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Syria was committed to ending the Israeli occupation of the Golan, and rejected all actions to change its natural, geographical and demographic characteristics. He called for the lifting of the blockade against Cuba, and of all unilateral coercive measures imposed on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Venezuela and Belarus, as well as those on Syria.
THONGLOUN SISOULITH, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, said that the world had just over 450 days left in which to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. As a landlocked and least developed country, his nation still faced challenges in achieving targets on reducing child malnutrition, ensuring gender equality in education, reducing child and maternal mortality and also in minimizing the impact of unexploded ordnance left over since the war. The full, effective implementation of the Oslo Convention on Cluster Munitions was of great importance, he said, expressing hope that other countries would consider becoming parties to the Convention. It was time for the unilateral embargo on Cuba to be lifted.
In order to deal with the complex and unpredictable circumstances facing the world today, the United Nations needed to strengthen itself through reform of key organs, he said. The rapid growth of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) had convinced his Government that the members of the organization would achieve their goal of becoming a single market and production base in 2015. Turning to the situation in his own country, he noted that landlocked developing countries were in a special situation, facing “daunting challenges” and marginalization in many areas. The second United Nations Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries, to be held in Vienna in November, was, therefore, of great significance in order to adopt a new programme of action for those countries in the next decade.
SHAIKH KHALID BIN AHMED AL KHALIFA, Foreign Minister of Bahrain, said his country’s region was going through a phase of extreme difficulty, in which a climate of instability, chaos, tension and savage, bloody and unprecedented terrorism prevailed. Contributing to those were many factors, the most prominent of which were three challenges. The first was the accelerated emergence of terrorist groups with various global dimensions and affiliations. They thrived in the region, not only targeting innocent people, but also carrying out inhumane practices, such as mass murder, public beheadings and the persecution of ethnic and religious minorities. Combating terrorist groups required the international community to work together in the security, military and financial aspects, and in fighting ideology that deformed human nature and disfigured Islamic principles.
The second challenge to the security and stability of the region was represented by political expansionism and attempts to impose hegemony in disregard of the sovereignty of States, and to interfere in their internal affairs, he said. The entire region as a result had suffered from attempts to export seditious revolutions and to train terrorists in violation of international law and United Nations principles. One form of such interference was the use of media, notably satellite television channels and social media, which were misused to distort facts and cause instability in the region. On Iraq, there was hope that the election of President Fouad Massoum and the formation of the new Government under Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi would enhance the political and development processes and contribute to the security and stability of that country. Concerning Syria, he said it was necessary to remove barriers that stood in the way of humanitarian assistance. On Libya, he then expressed concern at the deteriorating security situation there and its repercussion on the stability of its neighbouring countries. In light of those conflicts, he reiterated the call to make the Middle East a region free of weapons of mass destruction, notably nuclear weapons, and expressed support for the “5+1” group with a view of reaching a swift solution to the Iranian nuclear programme.
The third challenge was the illegal occupation of other States’ territories in contradiction of the principles of international law and the United Nations Charter, he said. That was notably illustrated by the violations committed by Israel, and its targeting of Palestinian people by confiscating their land and imposing blockades on them. In that regard, it was imperative to specify a time frame by which Israeli occupation must end, so that the Palestinians may realize their aspirations for an independent State. Concerning the occupation by Iran of the three islands — Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa — belonging to the United Arab Emirates, he rejected that occupation, and called on Iran to heed the efforts of the United Arab Emirates to solve the problem through direct negotiations or through arbitration by the International Court of Justice.
AURELIA FRICK, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Liechtenstein, calling upon leaders to unite, said, “at a time when the world seems to be breaking apart, it will serve us well to remember what unites us”, as shown in the United Nations Charter. The Organization was created to prevent war. Acts of aggression against Ukraine and the illegal annexation of parts of its territory were “massive violations” of the Charter’s principles and a major setback for Europe. They underlined the need to ensure enforcement of international law. She would not accept that a Security Council veto be used to contradict the purposes of the Organization, as had been seen too often. Permanent Council members must make a clear commitment not to vote against action to prevent or end atrocity crimes.
On human rights, she said that the digital era was uprooting the right to privacy and that discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, nationality or ethnicity, religion or disability remained rampant in much of the world. She expressed particular concern at the rise of religious intolerance, stating that the Assembly must issue a call against persecution of any religious minority anywhere. The core principles of the Geneva Conventions, among the most successful treaties with nearly universal acceptance, were being violated daily. In that context, she cited the suffering of civilians in the Gaza conflict, Syria and Iraq. The commemoration of the twentieth anniversary of the 1995 fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing, was an opportunity to show commitment to its outcome.
Noting successes in justice and the rule of law, she singled out the International Criminal Court. Her country had created an informal network of Ministers to protect it from political attacks, with the goal of making the Rome Statute a universal treaty. Turning to development, she said that the Millennium Development Goals had been a learning process and there were three areas to improve upon going forward. First, rule of law must be at the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals. Second, women’s empowerment was essential to sustainable development. Finally, a system should be established to monitor progress in implementing the post-2015 agenda involving all stakeholders. The high-level political forum would be the best anchor for such a system.
ERLAN ABDYLDAYEV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kyrgyzstan, said that perpetual instability, increasing disputes among leading world Powers and the absence of a clear vision for a future world order had enabled terrorist and extremist groups to fill the vacuum and influence the world situation. In that context, strengthening human rights and the rule of law were ever more relevant. Those principles were an integral part of his country’s development. Indeed the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections would strengthen its democratic foundations. To that end, he requested the international community’s help in implementing its far-reaching goals. He also reiterated the country’s candidacy for the Human Rights Council for the 2016-2018 period.
The most serious external challenge to Central Asia, he said, was the situation in Afghanistan, and the illegal trafficking of its drugs. He called on the international community to strengthen the capacity of regional law enforcement agencies and promote regional cooperation. Another important factor in regional instability was unresolved border issues. Their resolution would facilitate regional transit potential, the development of cross-border infrastructure, economic improvement and decreased social tension. He called on all Central Asian States to support his President’s initiative to develop and sign bilateral agreements on confidence-building concerning borders.
As a landlocked, mountainous country, Kyrgyzstan’s development had been restricted by its remoteness, lack of access to major international transport networks and its particular vulnerability to climate change, he said. An international development fund to provide assistance to developing landlocked countries would be beneficial. Recognizing the links among the environment, climate and sustainable development, he said vulnerable countries’ interests must be addressed adequately in future global actions. Further, the linkage between water resources and energy made developing hydropower a prerequisite for sustainable development. The issue of affordable energy should be reflected in the post-2015 agenda. The restoration and security of uranium tailings in Kyrgyzstan was a serious transboundary problem for Central Asia, he said, calling for assistance in solving the problem of radioactive and toxic waste.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, Prime Minister of Israel, said hopes for peace were in danger. Everywhere they looked, militant Islam was on the march. It was not militancy, it was not Islam, but specifically “militant Islam”. Its first victims were other Muslims, but it spared no one. For the militant Islamists, all politics were global, because their ultimate goal was to dominate the world. It started out small, like a cancer that attacked a particular part of the body. But, if left unchecked, the cancer would metastasize over wider and wider areas. That cancer must be removed before it was too late.
Last week, many countries rightly applauded United States President Barack Obama for leading the effort to confront the Islamic State in Iraq and the Sham (ISIS), he said. Yet, weeks before, some of those same countries had opposed Israel for confronting Hamas. Evidently they did not understand that ISIS and Hamas were branches of the same poisonous tree. They shared a fanatical creed, which they sought to impose well beyond their own territories. When it came to their ultimate goals, Hamas was ISIS and ISIS was Hamas, and they were all militant Islamists, be they Boko Haram, Al Shabaab, various Al-Qaida branches or other terrorist groups. They shared a goal for a land with no tolerance, where women were chattel and minorities were subjugated, and sometimes presented the same stark choice: convert or die. Anyone could be considered an infidel, including fellow Muslims.
The Nazis had believed in a master race, while the militant Islamists believed in a master faith, he said. Militant Islamists simply disagreed over who among them would be the master of the master faith; there was one place where that could soon happen, namely, the “Islamic State” of Iran. For 35 years, Iran had pursued the global mission to export revolution. Saying Iran did not practise terrorism was like saying Derek Jeter never played shortstop. The international community should not be fooled by Iran’s manipulative “charm offensive”, as it was designed to lift the sanctions and remove obstacles for Iran’s path to the bomb. The Islamic Republic was trying to bamboozle its way to an agreement to remove sanctions, so it could become a nuclear Power. Iran, which was the world’s most dangerous regime, in the most dangerous region, would obtain the world’s most dangerous weapons.
There was only one course of action: Iran’s nuclear capabilities must be fully dismantled, and ISIS must be defeated; to defeat ISIS and leave Iran as a threshold nuclear Power was to win the battle and lose the war, he said. The fight against militant Islam was indivisible; when militant Islam succeeded anywhere, it was emboldened everywhere. When it suffered a blow in one place, it was set back in every other place. That was why the fight against Hamas was for all countries. For 50 days this past summer, Hamas fired thousands of rockets at Israel, many of them supplied by Iran. Israel faced a propaganda war, because in an attempt to win the world’s sympathy, Hamas had cynically used Palestinian civilians as human shields and United Nations schools to store and fire rockets. While Israel surgically struck at the rocket launchers and “terror tunnels”, Palestinian civilians were tragically, but unintentionally killed.
Heart-wrenching photographs had left the impression that Israel was targeting civilians, but it was not, he went on. No other army had gone to greater lengths to avoid civilian causalities among the population of its enemies. Hamas deliberately placed its rockets where Palestinian children lived and played. Israel was using missiles to protect its children, while Hamas was using its children to protect its missiles. After decades of seeing Israel as the enemy, States in the Arab world increasingly recognized that they faced many of the same dangers as Israel. Israel was ready to make an historic compromise and was willing to work with its Arab neighbours, even though that might defy conventional wisdom.
GUNNAR BRAGI SVEINSSON, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland, said that extremely troubling among issues facing the international community today was the increasing disregard for international law demonstrated by ISIL, the growing terrorist group operating in Iraq and Syria. Equally shocking was the suffering of the Syrian people and the total disrespect for humanitarian law in that country’s civil war, where almost 200,000 people had died. Noting that the prolonged foreign occupation of the State of Palestine was another violation of international law, he condemned the indiscriminate rocket attacks from Hamas and other militant organizations in Gaza against civilian targets in Israel, as well as the disproportionate use of force by the Israel Defense Forces.
Turning to Eastern Europe, he said the violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity breached the Charter, international law and numerous treaties. The illegal annexation of Crimea also threatened security and stability throughout Europe. Further, the Security Council’s credibility was seriously undermined when a permanent member violated the Charter by using force to change borders and then could veto the necessary response and actions by that body empowered to maintain international peace and security. Noting the need to improve the Council’s working methods, he expressed support for the French- and Mexican-led proposal for refraining from using the veto in cases of mass atrocities.
On the post-2015 agenda, he highlighted the importance of resolving ocean-related issues and desertification, land degradation and drought, in order to ensure food security. In that regard, his country had shared its knowledge through the United Nations University’s Fisheries Training Programme in Iceland, and had actively contributed to efforts to achieve a land degradation-neutral world through the Group of Friends in New York and the United Nations University’s Land Restoration Training Programme in Iceland. As no society could function without energy, he said it was also important to focus on ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. Iceland also contributed to that effort by working with a group of countries and the International Renewable Energy Agency to identify opportunities to increase geothermal production.
PHANDU T.C. SKELEMANI, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Botswana, said that, while his country had made impressive gains in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, it was not without enormous challenges, particularly those posed by resource and capacity constraints. Nonetheless, the Government had strived to improve its citizens’ quality of life by allocating a substantial percentage of its budget to sectors such as education, health, infrastructure, development of human capital, women and youth empowerment. Botswana would also participate in the elaboration of the post-2015 development agenda, wherein the challenges faced by landlocked developing countries, such as his own, should be made a primary consideration.
He voiced grave concern about the increasing trend of instability, insecurity and violent conflict in various parts of the world. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as the protracted brutal war in Syria, defied human imagination. In Africa, the frequent eruption of violent conflict in certain parts of the continent, particularly in South Sudan and the Central African Republic, was distressing. Iraq was also under siege of terrorist groups, which threatened not only the stability and security of the Middle East, but also the maintenance of international peace and security at large. States’ failure to protect populations from impunity, war crimes and crimes against humanity was, in effect, their inadvertent acquiescence in the annihilation of future generations. It was, therefore, incumbent upon members of the Security Council to demonstrate exemplary leadership and a genuine regard for their responsibility, to maintain international peace and security as mandated by the United Nations Charter.
He also voiced deep concern that some permanent members of the Council had consistently thwarted others’ efforts to find lasting solutions to conflict situations. The Council’s failure in May of this year to adopt a resolution seeking to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court was nothing short of a travesty of international criminal justice. Botswana supported the independence and credibility of the Court, which was the only existing international mechanism available for the investigation and prosecution of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression. As such, the role of the Security Council in facilitating the Court’s work could not be overemphasized.
WUNNA MAUNG LWIN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Myanmar, said that climate change was an issue of survival requiring urgent action. A new global commitment on climate protection and emission reduction objectives must be reached. Eradication of extreme poverty and delivering sustainable and inclusive development must remain the central objective of the post-2015 development agenda, while finding effective means of implementation, including mobilizing financial and technological support to ensure success of the agenda and of sustainable development goals. Also, the unprecedented nature and scope of the Ebola outbreak demanded that all available resources and expertise be mobilized, and terrorism’s ruthless killings and atrocities in the name of religion must not be tolerated.
Noting that cooperation between Myanmar and the United Nations was better than ever, and that one of the Organization’s main goals was peace and security, he encouraged all Member States to support a draft resolution on nuclear disarmament his country had tabled every year since 1995, and would again at the current session. Further on disarmament, he noted that Myanmar’s Parliament had just approved its accession to the Biological Weapons Convention. While the country’s transition to democracy was peaceful, there were many challenges to overcome. He asked that the international community’s support for economic development and capacity-building lay a solid foundation for a democratic society.
The Government was laying the foundation for free and fair elections, in which all political parties would take part, he said. The final decision would come from the people on election day. Further, the Government was committed to the success of the peace process to end the six-decade conflict, with agreements reached with 14 of 16 armed ethnic groups. Strides had also been made in the areas of human rights, press freedom, combating human trafficking and gender violence. The Government was also working to resolve the complex issues that caused interethnic violence in Rakhine State. Improvement had also been seen in rural living standards, and there had been increasing rates of growth over the past three years. As a result, Myanmar had initiated the internal process of graduating from least developed country status.
ALBERT F. DEL ROSARIO, Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the Philippines, said his country’s score-card on the Millennium Development Goals showed considerable progress in the areas of poverty eradication, child mortality, access to safe drinking water, gender equality and the fight against both malaria and tuberculosis. But, the country continued to face challenges in other areas. In that regard, it aimed to strengthen its data collection and analysis to better measure the goals and aid in decision-making. The greatest challenge to achieving the Millennium targets was the series of natural disasters experienced by his country, most notably super typhoon Haiyan, the strongest typhoon in recorded history. That event reminded the world of the urgency in addressing climate change. He looked forward to the forthcoming third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan, as well as the first-ever global Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Turkey, where the Philippines hoped to share lessons learned from typhoon Haiyan.
Development efforts were jeopardized by setbacks due to threats to peace, security and the rule of law, he said. It was vital to ensure that conflicts did not undermine the development agenda. He heralded his country’s achievements in building peace in the southern Philippines, where the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro had helped bring new investments, jobs, economic opportunities, access to basic services and infrastructure. The rule of law was instrumental in resolving these tensions. At the same time, bringing an end to maritime disputes would require adherence to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. On this issue, the Philippines had invited a State party to settle its maritime disputes peacefully through the Convention, specifically the arbitration measures under Annex 7. Instead, the State had embarked on a series of “dangerous, reckless and forceful activities” that violated the rights of his country and threatened peace and stability in the South China Sea.
He also expressed deep concern over the threat of weapons of mass destruction from the Middle East to the Korean peninsula. The Philippines supported the complete elimination of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, and called for the Conference on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons to convene as soon as possible. The Six-Party talks on the Korean peninsula should also resume, he said, adding that a successful outcome to the 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference was needed to ensure the credibility of the Treaty. Moreover, the Philippines strongly supported the ongoing discourse on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons that had been gaining ground both within and outside of the United Nations.
DJIBRILL YPÈNÈ BASSOLÉ, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Burkina Faso, welcomed the appointment of the Special Envoy on Ebola, and said the initiative to combat the disease would allow the West African subregion to strengthen its systems of public health. Efforts of development could only succeed within a context of stability and peace. Burkina Faso thus continued to create a culture of tolerance and peaceful coexistence, strengthen the momentum of democracy and respect the rights of individual and collective freedoms.
He welcomed the recent adoption by the Human Rights Council of efforts to eliminate female genital mutilation. In Mali and elsewhere in the Sahel, armed conflicts were becoming more extreme and more radical. Those were characterized by trafficking in drugs, weapons and humans, and there was a shared responsibility to eradicate those ills. Poverty, youth unemployment and the denial of rights and justice were results of that imbalance. Defence and security forces needed to fight effectively against terrorist threats. In that regard, he thanked partners, including France and the United States, for efforts to make the Sahel safer.
No effort must be spared to protect the soldiers of peace, he said, who risked life and limb to bring safety and comfort to civilian populations. Burkina Faso would continue to participate in peacekeeping missions. He called for the entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty, and to create conditions of equitable and sustainable development for all peoples through the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals. Regarding the embargo against Cuba, he said that his country favoured lifting it. The role of the United Nations was irreplaceable, and he supported reforms of the Security Council and the General Assembly. Given the current state of world security, it was reasonable for there to be representatives of other continents on the Security Council.
HOR NAMHONG, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia, said that armed conflicts were threatening peace, stability and human security not only in the affected regions but also the world at large. Cambodia had contributed to peace, with more than 2,000 Cambodian peacekeepers deployed to date in Lebanon, Mali and South Sudan. Another detachment of peacekeepers would soon be deployed to the Central African Republic as part of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission (MINUSCA), he added.
He cited climate change as a global challenge and a human security issue, noting that its pace was having “devastating effects”. Agriculture-dependent developing countries had suffered acutely, with a marked increase in the frequency of typhoons, storms, floods and draughts. As an example, the 2013 monsoon in Cambodia had resulted in floods across the country, causing $1 billion in damages and affecting an estimated 1.8 million people. While industrialized countries were responsible for emitting the largest amount of greenhouse gases, developing countries bore the brunt of climate change. It was vital the international community prioritized actions to address climate change based on the United Nations principles of “common but differentiated responsibilities”. To that end, Cambodia had adopted the “Strategic Plan on Green Development for 2013-2030”, which aimed to achieve economic and social development in a sustainable manner. As a member of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), Cambodia was fully engaged in furthering the goals of the 2009 ASEAN Climate Change Initiative.
On the Millennium Development Goals, Cambodia explained that it had adopted its own development targets, which have been incorporated into the country’s National Strategic Development Plan. As a result, substantial progress had been achieved and Cambodia had met some of the goals ahead of schedule, including reducing the poverty rate to 19.5 per cent. The country had also made great strides in combating HIV/AIDS, reducing HIV prevalence to 0.6 per cent in 2013. The post-2015 development agenda should be realistic and build upon the lessons learned to ensure a “balanced and comprehensive” framework.
MURRAY MCCULLY, Minister for Foreign Affairs of New Zealand, hailing the success of the recent small island developing States conference, the extraordinary work of the host, Samoa, as well as the ownership of the agenda by the States themselves, said that, while the multilateral world was “awash with talk” of strategies and funds, out in the “real world” of those small islands, not enough was happening on the ground. Pacific nations spent 10 per cent of their gross domestic product and up to 30 per cent of their total bills on importing diesel for electricity generation, he pointed out. Sustainable economic development simply could not happen in that region without renewable energy. Some of the significant progress achieved in that field included Tokelau moving from 100 per cent dependence on fossil fuels to 93 per cent renewable, the opening of a 2.2 megawatt solar array in Samoa, and all of the outer islands of Tuvalu becoming 100 per cent renewable-based.
Sustainable fisheries were the biggest economic asset in the Pacific, he continued. New Zealand had committed over $70 million over the next five years to advance a comprehensive approach for strengthening commercial fishing practices. While small island developing States were showing real leadership in addressing climate change, they also required action on a global scale. Turning to the Middle East, he welcomed the ceasefire between Israel and Gaza, but voiced profound regret of Israel’s appropriation of 400 hectares of privately owned Palestinian land near Bethlehem for settlements.
In Syria and Iraq truly frightening consequences were occurring when leadership, both internally and in the Security Council, had failed, he said. The international community needed to find a way to contain the madness of ISIL, to address the humanitarian tragedy and to help the people of Syria and Iraq craft a better future. That situation cried out for the Security Council’s attention. Paralysis had also prevailed in the Council over Ukraine, with that body becoming essentially a bystander while one of its permanent members undermined the integrity of another Member State.
He also pointed out that events in the Middle East and Ukraine had dominated the headlines in recent months, diverting attention from serious situations that continued to play out in Africa, particularly Libya, Mali, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Deeply troubled by the unprecedented scale of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, he said he recognized the huge challenges that were posed to the economies and to political and security cohesion in the region. New Zealand had contributed to the humanitarian work under way, and would continue to do so while looking to further practical steps to support the international effort.
K. SHANMUGAM, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Singapore, condemned the terrorist actions of “ISIS”. Such threats were not confined to the Middle East, but affected the whole world. In addition to military and intelligence efforts, the radical ideology used to recruit the foreign fighters that were fuelling that group’s extremist agenda must be combated as well. The leadership of the United States in the formation of an international coalition was welcomed, as was the Jeddah Declaration put forth by Arab countries. As co-sponsor of Security Council resolution 2178 (2014) on foreign terrorist fighters, Singapore believed that text was an important step to combat global terrorism by cutting off financial support for “ISIS” and preventing the movement of foreign terrorist fighters.
Turning to the post-2015 development agenda, he commended the Open Working Group and said he looked forward to the Secretary-General’s report on that Group’s recommendations. As Co-Chair of the preparatory committee for the recent conference in Samoa on small island developing States, he emphasized that it was important that the views of small States were factored into the post-2015 development agenda, he said. The Millennium Development Goals had been successful, due to the framework’s pragmatic, outcome-based and quantifiable approach. That method should be continued for the post-2015 development agenda. Furthermore, any Millennium Development Goals not yet achieved should be prioritized in the post-2015 framework.
He went on to stress the importance of building sustainable cities, highlighting that more than half of the world’s population live in urban areas, a figure that was projected to reach 70 per cent by 2050. Most of that growth would take place in Africa, Asia and Latin America, where mismanaged urbanization could intensify inequalities. At the same time, successful cities could raise living standards and contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, particularly in reducing poverty. The challenge was to manage urbanization well. Singapore was co-chairing the Group of Friends for Sustainable Cities and establishing Singapore’s Centre for Liveable Cities in 2008. The Liveability Framework, a tool designed to help countries define the policies needed to achieve that goal, was also being developed. Looking ahead, he voiced hoped that the Framework would be part of discussions during the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) in 2016.
CHARLES FLANAGAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland, said his Government wished to see veto power eventually abolished in the Security Council and, therefore, welcomed France’s initiative to regulate that power. The body should increase its membership to reflect regional balances and the current global realities of population and economic weight. On the Middle East, it was time to attain a comprehensive peace between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples. He was not under any illusions about the difficult and painful compromises to be made, but believed both parties supported a just, negotiated two-State solution.
Turning to the Syrian conflict, he said that the flagrant violation of international law by all sides must be confronted and referred to the International Criminal Court. Those parties, particularly the Assad regime, must end their obstruction of vital humanitarian efforts. The growth of extremism in the Middle East was of significant concern, he said, adding that the “bloodlust and inhumanity” displayed by ISIL in Syria and Iraq had appalled all civilized people. That threat must be addressed with unity and with a real sense of urgency. On the Ukraine crisis, he opposed a military solution, supported the path of diplomatic dialogue and welcomed the Ukrainian President’s peace plan. A sustainable political solution must be based on the principle of respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty and with clear guarantees on border security, the disarmament of all illegal groups and the withdrawal of foreign forces.
LUIS ALMAGRO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Uruguay, said that the world was a hard place, where 6 million children died before the age of five, many from malnutrition; where violence had reached a new level of terror and horror with thousands dead in Libya, Syria and Iraq; and where human rights violations were a daily occurrence. Global governance was inspired not by rights, but by interests, forcing people to migrate from their homes and cope with violence, fear and death. Eight million died annually from tobacco use, which he described as an “act of genocide” because the operation of less regulated free markets was placed above human rights and human health. The United Nations had failed ethically by not providing better solutions for people.
The Millennium Development Goals were a useful tool, he continued, but countries should not be left alone in their efforts. Turning to the sustainable development goals, he said those must focus on poverty eradication through the lens of human rights. It was necessary to increase GDP, exports and investments, but all efforts must be based on guaranteed rights and protection against inequality. The women’s agenda was one of the most powerful vectors for development, he said, adding that any kind of discrimination was counter to social needs; ever more people should be protected. Also, national policies should promote a healthy lifestyle. Food insecurity resulted from bad global policies, he said. Noting that 30 to 50 per cent of food produced was never consumed, he said that excess could end global hunger.
He said that addressing climate change was a moral imperative for every person in the room, and should be undertaken from the perspective of combating poverty, inequality and exclusion. Uruguay rejected any unilateral actions that contravened international law. In that regard, he condemned the United States blockade of Cuba and demanded that the island State be struck from the list of countries protecting terrorism. On another area of concern, he said that sovereign debt must be restructured and the speculative “vulture funds” must be stopped. Global peace and security were essential, and to that end, Uruguay contributed peacekeepers both in Haiti and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
JOSÉ BADIA, Minister for External Relations of Monaco, said that the experience of the Millennium Development Goals taught that future goals must be based on the three pillars of sustainable development. In defining the post-2015 development agenda, all States must contribute, as must all other stakeholders: the private sector, universities, philanthropic organizations and non-governmental organizations. The agenda must be inclusive, participatory and based on good governance. At a time when the world was ever more interdependent, inequalities continued to grow and too many were marginalized.
Noting the escalation of conflicts over the past year, he called for a peaceful settlement to the situation in Ukraine and condemned the use of chemical weapons in Syria and the assault on civilian targets in Syria, Iraq, Gaza, South Sudan, Central African Republic and Nigeria. Furthermore, he spoke out against the reprehensible crimes committed by terrorist groups in the name of religion, which undermined society and spread hate and chaos on social media. The marginalized and excluded, among them many young people who had not benefitted from “progress”, were drawn to such groups. Policies for social integration, education and youth employment were needed. The promotion and protection of human rights must be at the heart of policies.
The unprecedented threat of Ebola in West Africa tested the global capacity to respond in an efficient and coordinated manner, he said, expressing support for the Organization’s emergency mission to confront the menace. The new paradigm for post-2015 development must accommodate a growing population and its accompanying urbanization. Addressing climate change required everyone to adopt new models of production, consumption and transport. It was time to break the ceiling that had held women back, for without their participation, sustainable development would not be achieved. On the recent Climate Summit, he said that success must be measured not only by commitments made but the ownership of the process by those affected.
SAMURA M. W. KAMARA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sierra Leone, said his country was at the forefront of “one of the biggest life-and-death challenges facing the global community”. The Ebola outbreak was especially worrying because it had mutated into a global phenomenon for which his country, the region, and the global community were “grossly ill-prepared”. The Ebola outbreak highlighted the globally weak infrastructure as well as inadequate human capital and surveillance systems. Slow recognition of the challenge had been accompanied by spontaneous fear and panic, which had led to border closures and travel restrictions. Moreover, the outbreak had hit Sierra Leone as it was making its “fast-paced” recovery from 10 years of devastating conflict.
The international community was finally responding to Ebola as a global challenge, he said, noting Sierra Leone’s extraordinary national response measures. Health educators were teaching citizens about Ebola’s dangers, while cultural practices like shaking hands and burial ceremonies were curtailed. At the same time, development projects had been suspended and gross domestic product (GDP) was expected to be constrained by up to 3.3 per cent. He warned also of threats to gains made in peacebuilding. The United Nations response, especially though resolutions and establishment of the emergency mission, deserved praise, but stronger capacities to respond were still needed. With that, he urged the General Assembly to voice its opposition to flight bans and policies that isolated or stigmatized Ebola-affected countries, adding that the United Nations was founded on a mandate to confront human insecurity and not shun it.
He promised a continued fight against poverty, with “intense engagement” under the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile and Post-conflict States. On Security Council reform, he adhered to the African Common Position, calling for remedy to the “historical injustice” of Africa’s poor representation in the Council. Peace and democracy were being built through the Mano River Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Sierra Leone would contribute peacekeepers and support the African Union’s rapid intervention initiative. Events in several countries were worrying, including transnational crime and terrorism. He supported measures targeting sexual violence and recruitment of child soldiers. He welcomed the International Criminal Court’s efforts to achieve judicial accountability, and stressed his commitment to a moratorium on the death penalty as part of support for the Human Rights Council.
AUGUSTINE KPEHE NGAFUAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Liberia, said President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf had chaired a high-level committee of African Heads of State, and under her leadership, a Common African Position was developed and endorsed by the African Union. The “CAP”, as it is known, was anchored on six development pillars, including economic growth, science and technology and environmental sustainability. It represented Africa’s vision for the continent’s future. He hoped that the substance of those pillars would form an integral part of the post-2015 development agenda. At the same time, he was increasingly concerned about the spread globally of extremist ideologies and terrorist activities, especially in Africa. Also troubling were the conflicts in South Sudan and the Central African Republic, and he commended efforts by the African Union and the United Nations to resolve them.
Concerning Ebola, he said that “deadly enemy” began wreaking havoc in Liberia in March. Since the outbreak, his Government had taken a host of measures, which included declaring a state of emergency, suspending school and increasing awareness and prevention campaigns. The latter steps aimed to address the “crystallized denial” and deeply-rooted traditional and cultural practices that created fertile ground for the spread. Despite those efforts and the help of several health organizations, Ebola had sprinted faster than those collective efforts to defeat it, killing more than 1,800 Liberians and infecting nearly 3,500. Women, who constituted a majority of the country’s health-care workers and were society’s primary caregivers, had been disproportionately affected. The situation was creating “a trail of traumatized orphans” across the country, which included a 10-year-old from Barkedu, Lofa County, who was the “last person standing” in a family of 12.
The resultant panic that arose from health workers seeing their colleagues die from Ebola had precipitated the closure of many health facilities across the country. Its public health system, which had collapsed during years of conflict and was being gradually rebuilt, had relapsed under the weight of the deadly virus. Ebola was not just a health crisis; it was a total crisis — an economic, social, and potentially a political and security crisis. It had caused a downward slide in the country’s growth, with experts predicting that, if not contained quickly, Ebola would cause a 12 per cent decline in the country’s economy in 2015. While there had been positive developments in the last few weeks that had helped increase the focus on the virus, the international community must not be complacent. Preparations to confront the longer term socioeconomic impact of the crisis were critical. In that connection, he expressed appreciation for the United Nations country team’s focus on the fight and the engagement of the United Nations Mission in Liberia, geared towards long-term development.
NICKOLAS STEELE, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Business of Grenada, said war and insecurity in the information age had burgeoned to the point where the efforts of neither the United Nations nor national armies were enough. A “new information master plan” for the twenty-first century was needed to reduce the growing inequalities in society and to confront current global challenges. Global policy should focus on promoting sustainable economic growth through education, information and communications technology. The World Bank’s 2011 World Development Report on Managing Conflict acknowledged that development agencies were not capable of adequately helping fragile States, and that investing in citizen security, justice and jobs was essential to reducing violence. “Do we have the courage to be proactive in fostering jobs and growth, or will we wait for violence to erupt?” he asked.
Climate shocks were terrifying for Grenada and islands worldwide, he said, acknowledging the Secretary-General’s leadership in calling for a climate summit. Hurricane Ivan alone had caused economic damage equivalent to 200 per cent of the country’s GDP. This week, unseasonably high rains had caused numerous landslides. Like neighbouring Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada had been forced to dedicate scarce financial resources to address such weather events. There was a link between those events and the high indebtedness of small Caribbean islands, he said, adding that those nations needed “concessionary” financing to ensure growth, jobs and economic development, and to build resilience to the effects of climate change. Their annual cry for such funding was “the early warning system” for the international community.
The renewable energy market was estimated at $12 billion in the Caribbean, he said. For island States, the most sustainable form of adaptation to climate change was a robust economy combined with sound disaster-management policies. Renewable energy could be introduced without subsidies. Island nations contributed the least to greenhouse gas emissions, and were the most cost-effective places for renewable energy. Grenada was working to transform its electricity sector, he said, adding that solving the energy challenge would remove a drag on Caribbean island economies and better position them to withstand environmental shocks. His Government had signed a groundbreaking memorandum of understanding with the United States to serve as a pilot country in the region on energy transformation, and one with New Zealand on geothermal energy.
The Green Climate Fund must become operational, he said. He called for the creation of a “window” within the Fund for islands; full reliance on renewable energy in all island States; setting a price on carbon and eliminating subsidies of fossil fuels; and greater support for climate-smart agriculture. The latter would increase productivity, income and resilience to climate change and reduce or remove carbon emissions. Having lost 30 per cent of its coral reefs and mangroves in the last 30 years, Grenada was working with the Dutch Government on the Climate-Smart Agriculture Alliance, and welcomed the Global Blue Growth and Food Security Initiative, among other global partnerships. Blue growth was vital for the tri-island “Ocean State” of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique — whose exclusive economic zone in the sea was 70 times greater than its land mass.
CAMILLO GONSALVES, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, said the United Nations Charter was the “rulebook” that governed international cooperation, its principal rule being that of respect for the sovereign equality of all States. Certain administrative aspects of the rulebook were “clearly long overdue for meaningful reform” — like the composition and working methods of the “fossilized and increasingly irrelevant Security Council”. However, the principles that informed the Charter were timeless, and any attempt to deviate from them would constitute an assault on sovereignty, a departure from diplomacy, and an improvisation of international law on the fly. The loss of sovereignty had never benefited the weak or powerless. As a small, open and vulnerable State, his country could not accept the suggestion that its existence rested on the whim, generosity or benign neglect of powerful States.
Speaking on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he said that whatever the motivation for the most recent conflict, the underlying problem remained unaddressed and unresolved. At its root were the invasion, occupation and economic strangulation of Palestine, and the steady, illegal erosion of its internationally established borders. The unquestionable right of Israel to exist in peace and defend itself, he added, did not give it an unfettered licence to occupy, oppress and suppress the sovereign rights of the Palestinian people. The absence of borders and disregard for sovereignty threatened to make the concept of a two-State solution nothing more than “feel-good rhetoric with limited applicability on the ground”, he concluded.
On climate change, he stressed that despite its “tiny carbon footprint and miniscule emissions”, his country had been repeatedly victimized by weather anomalies, partially caused by the historical and continued environmental abuse by major emitters. In the past four years, it had experienced a hurricane, a drought and two floods, the loss and damage caused by each of those events resulting in annual double-digit hits to its GDP. He added that the prospects of genuine progress against climate change became increasingly remote with each passing day of “diplomatic dithering, buck-passing and finger-pointing”. While the recent Climate Summit had seen some welcome new pledges, the numbers still did not add up to anything close to what was required to cap global warming at 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
JAMAL ABDULLAH AL-SALLAL, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Yemen, said his country had signed the Gulf Initiative and had thus begun the process of transition. It had established a national reconciliation committee as well as a peace committee and had organized presidential elections. Additionally, the drafting committee for Yemen’s constitution was about to determine its first draft. Despite great challenges his country faced, it had also signed a new security annex to maintain social cohesion in the country so that people could devote their efforts to the political process. The international community should continue to support Yemen, and the Security Council must work against parties that might seek to undermine the transitional process in the country.
He said Yemen was dealing with major economic challenges, including scarcity of resources. As host to around a million refugees from countries in the Horn of Africa, it needed economic support and humanitarian assistance. While Yemen had taken steps to restructure its armed forces and police and had seen an improvement in security, the situation remained fragile. The country was affected by terrorism, which threatened the region and entire world. He called on the international community to help his country combat security challenges and cooperate in logistical areas such as training and capacity-building, stressing that Yemen’s stability would contribute to global security.
Turning to conflicts elsewhere, he said his country was following the suffering of the Palestinian people, and was concerned with the ongoing cycle of violence in Syria, which had destabilized the region. He called for a solution that would meet the aspirations of the Syrian people while maintaining the country’s territorial integrity and unity. Noting the presence of ISIL in Iraq, he said such terrorist groups had nothing to do with Islam or the Muslim community, which respected the rights of all people. In light of those events around the world, he urged reform of the United Nations for the maintenance of international peace and security, as well as for a permanent seat in the Security Council for Arab States.
MOHLABI KENNETH TSEKOA, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Relations of Lesotho, said Africa was facing a rise in terrorism, with the Nigeria-based Boko Haram, Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, and Al-Shabaab in Somalia. The emergence of new extremist groups and terrorist entities such as ISIL in the Middle East and elsewhere, was a stark reminder of the need for collective action to ensure that peoples everywhere enjoyed the right to peace, development and the sanctity of life. Military action alone to counter terrorism was no longer a panacea, he said, calling for a holistic approach that addressed the root causes.
On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he said that recent developments had cast a shadow on a future that had seemed to hold promise for a negotiated settlement. Lesotho endorsed the Human Rights Council resolution calling for an independent commission to investigate the massacres of innocent Palestinian civilians. Those responsible should be held accountable. It was unfortunate, he added, that in the case of the slaughter of thousands of Palestinian civilians, the Security Council had shied away from invoking the “responsibility to protect” principle and had issued only a presidential statement, which failed to reiterate accountability for the war crimes committed.
Concerning the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, he stressed that the challenges remained most daunting in the least-developed, landlocked and small island developing States, as well as countries in or emerging from conflict. Lesotho had made some progress in achieving at least two of the eight Goals, namely universal primary education and the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment. However, it still faced a long and uphill journey, with HIV and AIDS remaining a serious threat. The post-2015 development agenda must emphasize national ownership and respect national conditions. Regarding climate change, he called for more easily accessible funds aimed at helping developing countries mitigate and adapt to its impacts.
JEAN-PAUL ADAM, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Seychelles, said that despite being one of the smallest nations in the world, the people of Seychelles had always known that they could not be at peace if the world was not at peace. Global terrorist activities, coupled with a multiplication of regional conflicts and instability, were a reminder of the increasing threat posed by terrorism and the effect on innocent victims. Building peace meant reinforcing the commitment to multilateralism and prioritizing more inclusive and effective development.
In the context of the post-2015 development agenda, he said his country took pride in having achieved the majority of the Millennium Development Goals and was motivated to ensure that the remaining challenges were addressed by 2015. Although progress was essential for small island developing States, the current development framework was not favourable to that group, he said, noting that the gains were still measured through GDP per capita metrics, which did not sufficiently identify threats to human development or the opportunities that may exist for those small island nations. Nevertheless, Seychelles welcomed the outcomes of the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States held in Samoa, and thanked the host country for its leadership in establishing a platform for action to support their development.
On climate change, he said that Seychelles was preoccupied by the conclusions drawn by the Fifth Assessment Report of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). He stressed that small island developing States had continuously underlined the scientific research being conducted on climate change, warning that 1.5°C would negatively impact all countries. There was a window, however, to act decisively and effectively, he said, noting that a legally binding agreement which set the course for increases of no more than 2°C was within reach. He called on all partners to ensure that the upcoming Lima conference set the stage for concluding an agreement in Paris in 2015. At the same time, he underlined the importance of fulfilling joint commitments to mobilize $100 billion annually by 2020 for the Green Climate Fund.
PATRICE NISBETT, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Saint Kitts and Nevis, said that Millennium Development Goal 8, calling for the strengthening of global partnerships, remained unfinished and must be rendered effective and operational. His Government believed that achieving sustainable development would require mobilization and effective use of financial resources and technology development and transfer, in addition to capacity-building at all levels. It would also entail an increased investment in the social sectors, infrastructure, community development, climate financing, and the protection of global common goods. A strengthened global partnership should foster close collaboration between and among Governments, provide for an increased role for the private sector, ensure a fair international trading regime, and foster national and foreign direct investments.
Speaking on small island developing States, he highlighted their susceptibility to economic and environmental shocks, which resulted in high indebtedness. By the end of June 2014, his country had successfully reduced its debt-to-GDP ratio from over 145 per cent to 95 per cent. He called for a new paradigm to the assessment of the policy of graduation, which should take into account the peculiar vulnerabilities of those island States. The graduation to a higher income category made it more difficult to access resources, and borrowing funds at a high rate on the international financial market only perpetuated the vicious cycle of debt and threatened their sustainable development.
With his country and the region wrestling with a high incidence of non-communicable diseases, he was pleased to see them included in the post-2015 development agenda. On climate change, he said that for small island developing States it was not just an environmental concern, but a threat to their existence. The international community should accept creative initiatives such as debt swap for climate adaptation and mitigation.
ROBERT DUSSEY, Minister of State and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Togo, said that the Millennium Development Goals were helpful for humankind, even if all targets would not be achieved. His Government was determined to continue and scale up the efforts within the framework of the post-2015 agenda, with a commitment to reducing poverty. There was now a positive outlook for increased success of job-promotion programmes, mainly for the benefit of youths. Financial institutions were assisting members of society usually excluded from their benefits, particularly women.
In health, Togo had registered encouraging results for child and infant mortality rates, and was battling diseases including tuberculosis, he stated. His country had intensified efforts to protect world heritage through neutralizing networks of trafficking in endangered species. Togo was all the more certain that the agenda for peace and new architecture for international security must take into account the trend of the regionalization of conflicts. Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab frequently carried out attacks that destabilized brother countries. Togo knew too well the value of the efforts made by France to fight alongside African countries. Those efforts must continue and be strengthened, and the entire international community must spare no effort in their support.
He said it was essential that countries further secured their maritime borders as well as eradicate piracy. African coasts should be a space for international trade, free from organized predators. Further, the worsening of the situations in various conflict areas throughout the world — in Syria, Libya, Ukraine, Palestine and others — threatened to wipe out whatever development had been achieved. He reminded the Assembly of the great threat to the international community, especially in West Africa, posed by the Ebola virus. That was an international threat to peace and security, and greater attention should be paid to the people of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea to prevent the spread of the disease.
MÅRTEN GRUNDITZ (Sweden) said his country had joined collective efforts to tackle ISIL at the request of the Iraqi Government, stressing the importance of political engagement to resolve that issue, as well as conflict in Syria, Iran’s nuclear dossier, and Israel-Palestine negotiations. He welcomed action on Ebola, noting Sweden’s support to those efforts. Peacebuilding support had also been given to Somalia and Liberia. Criticizing “Russian acts of aggression” in Ukraine, he stressed the need for the world to “react resolutely”, particularly given that the attacker was a permanent member of the Security Council. Greater efforts were needed to fulfil the Millennium Development Goals, and a transformative and universal new framework for sustainable development was needed with a consensus on financing and effective partnerships.
Women were essential to development and peace, he said, underlining that gender equality was just and smart economics. Women needed full sexual and reproductive rights. Sweden’s economic growth was decoupled from its greenhouse gas emissions, with 60 per cent growth coming despite a 20 per cent reduction in emissions since 1990. His country had helped initiate the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate and he looked forward to the Paris Summit. Migration was at its highest level since the Second World War, with more global solidarity needed. His country would continue to donate 1 per cent of its GDP to ODA and promised continued peacekeeping contributions. Declaring Sweden’s candidacy for the Security Council, he welcomed the Hammarskjöld Commission’s report on the death of Dag Hammarskjöld.
Right of Reply
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Iran said that the representative of the Israeli regime had made baseless accusations and distorted passages against his Government, which were designed to defend the atrocities that it had recently committed against a whole civilian population. That speaker had tried in vain to wash his hands of that most recent bloodbath in Gaza, perpetrated before the eyes of the whole world. He had rushed to the General Assembly to hopelessly wage another war against the whole Islamic world and civilization, associating them baselessly with the ISIS terrorist group and propagating Iranophobia and Islamophobia. All of that had been done to the applause of a crowd brought in from outside the United Nations.
He said it was ironic that a regime famous for its atrocities, apartheid policies and war crimes could allow itself to accuse other countries in such a sinister way. It was also preposterous that the same regime with a highly known record of developing, producing and stockpiling different kinds of inhumane weapons, including nuclear weapons, ventured to falsely accuse others of trying to acquire similar weapons. It was “laughable” for many to hear such a person speak of the atrocities by the ISIS terrorist group when, under his command, there had been an aggression against Gaza in which all international norms and laws were blatantly flouted, leading to the killing of more than 2,000 Palestinian civilians, mostly women and children and the elderly, and rendering more than a half a million people homeless. Those people had already been living under an inhumane and suffocating Israeli blockade for eight years.
Against that backdrop, he said that speaker had claimed to be concerned over the Iranian nuclear program, which was fully peaceful and under international supervision. Iran and others in the region had the right to worry about nuclear weapons in the hands of a regime that had shown, time and again, its capacity and propensity to kill. The statement by the Israeli representative was in keeping with its well-known policy to sabotage and disrupt negotiations on Iran’s nuclear programme.
Turning to the statement made by the representative of Bahrain, he said the “Persian Gulf” was and had always been the historic and time-honoured toponym for the stretch of water situated between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula. Historic evidence bore testimony to that fact, and the term was also internationally recognized, including repeatedly by the United Nations.
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