Lessons of Second World War Must Continue to Guide United Nations Work, General Assembly Told During Meeting Marking Seventieth Anniversary

GA/11641
5 May 2015
Sixty-ninth General Assembly, 86th, 87th & 88th Meetings (AM & PM)

Lessons of Second World War Must Continue to Guide United Nations Work, General Assembly Told During Meeting Marking Seventieth Anniversary

Several Speakers Call for Security Council Reform to Address Present Challenges

The lessons of World War II — on whose ashes the United Nations was founded — must continue to guide the Organization’s work, even as it adapted to meet the evolving challenges of the modern world, delegates commemorating the seventieth anniversary of the end of the war told the General Assembly today.

“We must never forget the international community’s responsibility to stand up to tyrants, despots and all those that attempt to suppress the enduring nature of the human spirit,” said Sam Kutesa (Uganda), Assembly President.  Having survived the catastrophe of the Second World War, humankind sought to embrace new means to prevent the recurrence of such tragic events.

To that end, he said, the Organization was established to ensure unity and harmony among nations.  As envisaged in the United Nations Charter, it was founded to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”.  Over the last seven decades, the war had not only shaped the Organization’s mission, but its lessons continued to guide its work around the world.

The representative of the Russian Federation, on whose initiative the Assembly met today, said that the long struggle of the Soviet people against Nazism had made a decisive contribution towards the common victory of the “anti-Hitlerite” countries of the Second World War.  It was the duty of all to revere and preserve the gains won in that war, because too much was paid for them, and too much was at stake for succeeding generations.

“We know the evil that man is capable of and we know that some things are worth fighting for,” said Israel’s representative.  For his country, World War II was synonymous with the Holocaust, during which one third of the Jewish people were murdered.  Today, freedom was once again under attack.  The radical Islamists marching across the Middle East and North Africa were every bit as determined and dangerous as the Nazi forces that had marched across Europe, he said.

A number of other speakers stressed that today’s challenges – including extremism, terrorism and rebounding intolerance and xenophobia – required both the wisdom of the past and a new vision for the future.  In that regard, several delegations called for the reform of the United Nations, especially the Security Council, which they said would make the United Nations better “fit for purpose” in the modern era.

In that connection, India’s delegate said that most of the fundamental structures created after World War II by the victorious Powers remained unchanged until the present day.  That had led to “structural deficiencies” in the architecture for global security, which needed to be urgently addressed, he said.

The representative of France agreed that the United Nations must adapt to reflect today’s realities.  His country was in favour of a reformed Council with both categories of membership — permanent and non-permanent — expanded.  However, credibility remained a core issue, with the Council unable to act in the face of a war in Syria that had claimed more than 220,000 lives to date.

“We should be as ambitious as the statesmen who once conceived a new global order based on universal values,” said Brazil’s representative, stressing that reform — particularly of the framework for maintaining international peace and security — was critical to renewing the world’s commitment to the principles of the Organization.

Emphasizing that remembrance was a debt owed to those who had lost their lives in World War II, the representative of Belarus said that today, tolerance and restraint continued to be considered as signs of weakness in world policy, and the use of violence and sanctions was praised; those values were not in line with the lessons of the war, he stressed.

In other business, the General Assembly unanimously adopted the Political Declaration on Strengthening Cooperation between the United Nations and Regional and Subregional Organizations (document A/69/L.60).  Upon the adoption, Mr. Kutesa called the Declaration timely as it reaffirmed the Assembly’s commitment to strengthening international cooperation to address persistent challenges related to sustainable development as work continued on crafting the post-2015 development agenda.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Tajikistan (on behalf of the Collective Security Treaty Organization), Estonia (also on behalf of Latvia and Lithuania), Poland, Romania, United States, China, United Kingdom, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Germany, Ukraine, Japan, Turkmenistan, Cuba, Greece, South Africa, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Venezuela, Argentina, Iran, Azerbaijan, Croatia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Serbia, Slovenia and the Republic of Korea, as well as the European Union.

Opening Remarks

SAM KUTESA (Uganda), President of the General Assembly, said that the seventieth anniversary of the end of World War II held particular importance for the United Nations, whose founding took place on the ashes of that ferocious war that claimed millions of lives.  The war was a time of unspeakable atrocities, of lost faith and devastated humanity, he said in honour of the countless victims that lost their lives.  Today’s special session afforded an opportunity to recall the Assembly’s firm desire to make every possible effort to prevent and mitigate the human suffering that resulted from war.

“We must never forget the international community’s responsibility to stand up to tyrants, despots and all those that attempt to suppress the enduring nature of the human spirit,” he said.  Having survived the catastrophe of World War II, humankind sought to embrace new means to prevent the recurrence of such tragic events.  To that end, the Organization was established to ensure unity and harmony among nations.  As envisaged in the Charter, it was founded to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”.  Over the last seven decades, the war had not only shaped the Organization’s mission, but its lessons continued to guide its work around the world.

Today Member States stood in solidarity under the guiding principles upon which the Organization was founded, including non-aggression, the peaceful settlement of disputes and the need to protect human rights, among others, he said.  The war was also a time when the world witnessed extraordinary bravery.  Through the collective, heroic efforts of countless men and women, victory was claimed over tyranny and evil, he concluded in remembrance of those who lost their lives.

Statements

VITALY I. CHURKIN (Russian Federation) said that the long struggle of the Soviet people against Nazism had made a decisive contribution towards the common victory of the “anti-Hitlerite” countries of the Second World War.  Three quarters of the Nazi forces were crushed at the Eastern Front, and it was the Battle of Stalingrad that marked a turning point in the war.  These battles were among the bloodiest in world history, with losses on both sides each exceeding 2 million people.  A total of 20 million citizens of the multinational Soviet Union gave their lives for the victory over Nazism.  The Nazis did not just intend to expand their living space, he said, but to lead humanity down a horrifying path that was unprecedented in its violence.  In pursuit of that goal the Nazis established a network of concentration camps across Europe where they applied unthinkably brutal technologies of murder.  It seemed obvious that the historic importance of the victory over fascism did not tolerate “opportunistic political hustle”.  

The distinction between the “anti-Hitlerite” and the Axis Powers formed the bedrock of the United Nations Charter and the judgements of the Nuremberg Tribunal, he said.  The end of the Second World War was closely linked with the creation of the United Nations.  The past decades had revealed that the system was not ideal, but nevertheless had managed to save the world from a new global catastrophe and provide States with a platform and instruments for equitable dialogue and the settling of disputes.  It was the duty of all to revere and preserve those gains, because too much was paid for them, and too much was at stake for succeeding generations.

THOMAS MAYR-HARTING, Head of the European Union Delegation, said the aim today was to remember the innocent victims of the Second World War and to recall the basic values that guided the creation of the United Nations.  It was also an opportune time to express deepest gratitude to the many millions of men and women from around the globe who gave their lives so that nations in Asia, Africa and Europe could live in peace, security and respect for human rights.  Together, that war and the unprecedented crime of the Holocaust not only cost Europe dozens of millions of human lives and devastated great parts of the continent but also left Europe deeply divided for more than four decades.  Europeans had to wait until November 1990 for the “Charter of Paris for a New Europe” to proclaim that “Europe whole and free is calling for a new beginning”.

Since 1990, the “new Europe” of democracy, peace and unity had suffered a number of painful setbacks, he said.  However the European Union and its now 28 Member States remained firmly committed to those goals.  There was no place for the use of force and coercion to change internationally recognized borders, and the current anniversary should lead to a redoubling of efforts to settle disputes by peaceful means.  It was necessary to remember the causes and overcome the legacies of the Second World War and build on the progress made since the end of it in promoting democratic values, human rights and fundamental freedoms.  The example of those who fought for liberty and peace should inspire the international community to come together and look forward with hope.

MAHMADAMIN MAHMADAMINOV (Tajikistan), speaking on behalf of the Collective Security Treaty Organization , paid tribute to the memory of those who died on the front lines of the war, in concentration camps and from bombings, hunger and cold.  That victory was only possible thanks to many people joining forces.  That battle with the ideology of hate was something the world needed to remember when it sought to eliminate new threats, he said, stressing that the member States of the Treaty Organization categorically rejected and condemned any attempts to rewrite history or undertake attempts to glorify Nazism or any type of fascism.  It further rejected attempts to bring into the ranks of national heroes those who fought alongside the Nazis.

History had shown the dangers of intolerance and xenophobia on the basis of race or religion, he went on.  It was up to States to bear additional responsibility to avoid the many types of intolerance.  In commemoration of the victory, the Treaty Organization also recognized the beginning of the important work of the Nuremberg trials, and called on all States to respect the principles of international law that had been established as a result.  He further spotlighted the philosophy of multilateralism and the creation of mechanisms to ensure international peace, which had emerged from the victory in the Second World War.

MARGUS KOLGA (Estonia), also speaking for Latvia and Lithuania and aligning with the European Union, regretted that international efforts for peace had failed too often and many crises and conflicts remained unresolved.  The anniversary must serve as a reminder of the commitment to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or sovereignty of any State.  It should also provide an inspiration to redouble efforts to settle disputes by peaceful means.  The United Nations was created to put an end to a world where might made right, he said, urging all to ensure that the dark days of war and injustice never prevailed again.

The Baltic States could not be among the founders of the United Nations as they had been occupied first by Soviet, then Nazi and, again, Soviet troops, he said.  For the men of those States, the Second World War was particularly poignant because they were forcibly recruited into armed forces on both sides of the battlefront.  At the time of the creation of the United Nations, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were illegally annexed by the Soviet Union and could liberate themselves only decades later.  That story could not be denied, downplayed to irrelevance or be called a “rewriting of history”.

HENRYA MOŚCICKA-DENDYS (Poland) said that her country had been the first victim of Nazi Germany’s aggression, which marked the beginning of the Second World War in Europe, and experienced the worst of both Hitler’s and Stalin’s ideological madness.  Genocide, politically motivated killings, ethnic cleansing and physical destruction became part of daily life in occupied Poland.  Over 6 million Polish citizens, including 3 million Polish Jews, were killed, and for every 1,000 citizens, 220 were lost.  Eighty-three per cent of Warsaw, the capital, was in ruins.  Though Polish soldiers were fighting on all fronts, they did not experience the freedom they hoped for their own country and fell under Soviet dominance until 1989 when its full sovereignty was finally regained.  Today it was the world’s responsibility to remember that, in the words of Anne Applebaum, “half of Europe was liberated at the cost of enslaving the other for 50 years”.

CARMEN BURLACU, Secretary of State for Global Affairs of Romania, aligning with the European Union, recalled that her country had the fourth largest manpower presence during the Second World War, after the Soviet Union, United States and United Kingdom.  The reigning King during the war was awarded highest distinctions by the Soviet Union and the United States for his role in ending the confrontation.  The ideals and spirit that inspired the creation of the United Nations remained to be transformed into reality.  The resurgence of conflicts in many parts of the world was putting a heavy strain on the international security system.  While the security landscape had fundamentally changed, the core of the collective security system remained the same: the obligation to refrain from the use of force.

SAMANTHA POWER (United States) recalled how soldiers from her country’s army liberated the Nazi concentration camp at Mauthausen 70 years ago today.  Around half of the prisoners — 100,000 men, women, and children — were shot, hanged, tortured, starved to death or gassed in a chamber disguised to look like a communal shower.  Of course, the horrors of the Second World War took many forms beyond concentration camps.  In paying tribute to the tens of millions of people who died in the war, including more than 400,000 Americans, the international community must remember why they gave their lives and why the Allies fought their way to liberate death camps like Mauthausen.  They fought — as Winston Churchill put it in September 1939 — “to save the whole world from the pestilence of Nazi tyranny and in defense of all that is most sacred to man… It is a war […] to establish, on impregnable rocks, the rights of the individual, and it is a war to establish and revive the stature of man.”

The idea of “the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family” — as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights confirmed — was one of the impregnable rocks upon which global order was anchored, she said.  So was the system of international justice that today was helping to hold warlords and dictators accountable, which was first conceived at Nuremberg.  But in order to truly honour their sacrifice, more must be done “than memorialize”.  The principles they fought for were being ridiculed by Governments that gassed and barrel-bombed their own people and used starvation as a weapon of war, as the Assad regime continued to do.  And they were weakened by regimes that held 100,000 of their citizens in prison camps, working them to death and forcing children to watch their parents’ executions, as was happening today in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

LIU JIEYI (China) said that on this important occasion, the world paused to remember the innocent victims of the Second World War and to pay tribute to those who gave their lives to world peace, civilization and progress.  “World War Two is a dark page in human history,” he said, noting that it had brought untold suffering to many regions of the world.  However, it was also a great war of the just defeating evil, the progressive defeating the reactionary.  The world’s peace-loving countries had formed an anti-fascist coalition, leaving a far-reaching and profound impact on the world.  The Chinese Government, having been the main anti-fascist player in the East, was planning several commemorative activities, he said.  Indeed, the Chinese people had made a huge sacrifice during the war, with more than 35 million killed.  That war had left a good lesson for the world’s people, and history should not be forgotten.  Any words and deeds that tried to water down or negate the history of aggression would not be tolerated.  Over the last 70 years, the world had changed significantly.  The Chinese people were ready to work with the world community to support the trends of peace and respect.

ANDREI DAPKIUNAS (Belarus) said that on a spring day in San Francisco, representatives of countries, including Belarus, had laid the foundation for what would become the United Nations.  Unfortunately, at the same time the declaration of the Cold War and the raising of the Iron Curtain had divided Europe.  In recent decades, some sceptical voices had asked how much the world needed to remember the end of the Second World War.  The world had changed, some said, and it was time to “stop wearing the shoes of other times”.  However, that history must not be forgotten, he stressed, noting that the abbreviation “S.S.” would never be associated with anything but cruelty and death in the former Soviet Union.  The atrocities of the war were scars on the heart of human kind.  Remembrance was a “moral human debt” owed to those who had lost their lives in the Second World War fighting intolerance.  Today, tolerance and restraint continued to be considered in world policy as signs of weakness and the use of violence and sanctions were praised; the world could therefore not say that the Second World War had been properly remembered.  The United Nations Summit to be held in September must be used to revive the spirit of the Organization, he said in that regard.

MATTHEW RYCROFT (United Kingdom), aligning with the European Union, said the service and sacrifice of men and women who helped defeat fascism would never be forgotten.  The Second World War showed the darkest side of humanity, yet from its ashes arose an Organization dedicated to promoting the best of humanity.  “When we hear of the words of the United Nations Charter, let us all remember the price the world paid to agree these shared values.”  The world today had witnessed unforeseen and uncontrollable events arising in previously unimaginable ways, which required determined action.  As the world commemorated those who gave their lives in the Second World War, it should draw on the strength, determination and unity of purpose they showed to bring liberty to Europe.  In doing so, the world could help ensure that the United Nations remained a fitting legacy to their sacrifice.

KAIRAT ABDRAKHMANOV (Kazakhstan) hailed the seventieth anniversary of victory over fascism and paid tribute to what determined courage and triumph could achieve in the face of the greatest of odds.  It symbolized collective unity and the pursuit of peace over the forces of conflict and hostility.  This common victory stood for the highest principles of equality and harmony over intolerance, discrimination and genocide.  Those values had strongly united the Soviet Union, United States, China, United Kingdom, France, and many other countries that had stood for truth and universal collective humanity.  By the end of the war, more than 20 million people of the multi-ethnic and multi-confessional Soviet society were killed.  Some 1.7 million Kazak citizens, of a population of 6.2 million, also fought in the battle against fascism; 44 per cent of those who fought — more than 600,000 people — were killed.  For every one soldier on the warfront, five to eight people worked behind the scenes as unsung and unknown heroes.  During the war, more than 700,000 Kazak citizens constituted the regimens, requiring labour-intensive work.  In other words, one out of every four citizens contributed towards the building of defence installations and worked in war-related factories and power plants.

RON PROSOR (Israel) said that the world owed its freedom to the courage and determination of the Allied armies, which had fought to restore freedom to Europe.  For Israel and the Jewish people, World War II was synonymous with the Holocaust.  One third of the Jewish people, including over 1 million children, were murdered, he said, adding, “we are still haunted by the devastation.”  Today, freedom was once again under attack.  The radical Islamists marching across the Middle East and North Africa were every bit as determined and dangerous as the Nazi forces that had marched across Europe.  Evil was alive and well, he said, adding that today, in the heart of civilized Europe, angry mobs were heard chanting “gas the Jews”.  “History has taught us that Jewish lives can never be entrusted to another nation,” he said, stressing that Jews must always be able to defend themselves.  The State of Israel was the fulfilment of that promise.  “We know the evil that man is capable of and we know that some things are worth fighting for,” he said.  The world could not allow the sacrifices of World War II to be in vain.  “With courage and conviction we must now fight for the ideals for which they lived and died,” he said.

TIGRAN SAMVELIAN (Armenia) said his country’s people had suffered one of the greatest losses during the “Great Patriotic War” and made a paramount contribution to achieving great victory, through enormous and heroic sacrifice.  Some 500,000 Armenians, out of a population of 1.5 million, served in the war, and almost half of those lost their lives.  As one of the 15 republics of the Soviet Union, Armenia made its fair contribution during the war.  Altogether, some 70,000 Armenian soldiers received various medals or awards for their bravery and service, and Armenian citizens were also active in resistance groups.  The vast majority of Armenians in the diaspora, themselves mostly survivors or descendants of survivors of the Armenian genocide, also supported the Allied war efforts.  It was critical to preserve and respect the victims’ memories from one of the darkest pages of common history and overcome the legacies of war, genocide, and other crimes against humanity.

HARALD BRAUN (Germany) described the crimes of the Nazi regime as being without parallel, for which his country had accepted responsibility that it would always honour.  Expressing gratitude to the nations that liberated Germany from that inhumane regime 70 years ago, he said 1945 also commemorated the endeavour of visionary leaders to build a more peaceful and prosperous global order.  The United Nations remained the cornerstone of that vision.  While Europe and the world remained divided for decades after 1945, Germany was granted the opportunity to return to the international community, an act of forgiveness for which it was humbled and grateful.  Reconciliation also entailed the responsibility to strengthen and defend the international order and to help overcome conflicts and divisions by peaceful means.  Post-war history demonstrated that in a globalized world, one could only gain by giving, a realization that lay at the heart of Germany’s commitment to international institutions, European integration and worldwide partnerships.

YURIY SERGEYEV (Ukraine) said the root cause of all wars lay primarily in Governments’ and leaders’ attempts to solve their problems at the expense of other nations.  The loss of faith in the future, in civil solidarity and in love of neighbours and morbid ambitions allowed leaders to throw whole nations into a whirlpool of suffering.  A year ago, Ukraine could confidently say it had kept united a diverse country and built the foundation for a future among developed European nations.  Seventy years after the Second World War, Ukraine felt the smell of war again, he said, adding that it was most tragic and incomprehensible that allies against fascism then brought chaos and death today.  They were savagely ignoring the Charter and repeating step by step fatal efforts that precipitated the war in 1939.  He appealed to the world not to turn a blind eye to attempts by some leaders to ignite and sustain new instability.

BHAGWANT SINGH BISHNOI (India) said that the Second World War was the most devastating and destructive global conflict in human history.  The Indian army suffered nearly 87,000 fatalities and over 100,000 injuries during that war, and Mahatma Gandhi, the apostle of non-violence, supported Indian participation in the two World Wars despite the ongoing struggle against colonial rule.  He underlined the brave sacrifices of Indian women, many of whom served as nurses in civil and military hospitals or as members of the Women’s Auxiliary Corps performing vital tasks for the war effort.  Despite the progress that humankind had recorded, war was far from being eliminated.  While instances of war and armed conflict had been reduced over time, the actual impact on people had expanded, and mortality from war had increased dramatically from 1.6 million in the sixteenth century to nearly 110 million in the twentieth century.  Most of the fundamental structures created after World War II by the victorious Powers remained unchanged, and the structural deficiencies in the architecture for global security needed to be addressed.

MOTOHIDE YOSHIKAWA (Japan) said that over the past 70 years, his nation had walked the path of peace, while consistently respecting freedom, democracy, fundamental human rights and the rule of law, based on feelings of “deep remorse” over the war.  “Our actions brought suffering to the peoples in Asian countries.  We must not avert our eyes from that,” he said.  Japan had also made assiduous efforts to contribute to world peace and prosperity through its efforts in areas such as maintenance of peace and security, development and humanitarian assistance, protection and promotion of human rights, and disarmament and non-proliferation.  Expressing appreciation for the work of the United Nations, he said there was an even greater need to be united in order to tackle threats common to all.  The path his country had taken so far as a peace-loving nation was the pride of the Japanese people and it would never change, even as international circumstances changed drastically.  He reaffirmed Japan’s determination to make further positive contributions, under the policy of “Proactive Contribution to Peace” based on the principle of international cooperation, in areas such as peacebuilding, the fight against terrorism, nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, human security, education, health, development, global warming and women’s empowerment.  “We will do these together with the United Nations,” he said.

AKSOLTAN ATAEVA (Turkmenistan) said that the unprecedented scope and losses of the Second World War had forced the world to come together to eradicate the scourge of Nazism.  Having paid the horrific price of suffering and the death of peoples, the world had come to realize that there was no option but to come together for collective security.  Her delegation rejected any attempts to rewrite the history and aggression of the Nazis.  “We paid a very high price for this victory,” she said, noting that millions had died in concentration camps or from starvation.  Cities were destroyed.  Together with others, the Turkmen people had fought bravely in foreign lands, giving their lives for peace.  “They must not move out of our memories,” she stressed.  The historical significance of the victory of the Second World War was indistinguishable from the mission of the United Nations, which was created for peace and peaceful development.  She hoped that the Second World War would be the last one.

RODOLFO REYES RODRÍGUEZ (Cuba) said that 70 years ago, the world had asserted its victory over barbarism.  All of humanity had paid a high price; however, no one had contributed more than the peoples of the Soviet Union, which had lost more than 20 million people.  At the end of the war, nations free of colonialism and foreign domination had formed the United Nations, which set out to develop friendly relations between countries to resolve economic, social and cultural problems.  Nevertheless, the end of the war was not a panacea; many people had to wait years to exercise their freedom.  Today, the United Nations faced colossal threats and challenges, including underdevelopment and poverty, wars of plundering and hegemonic domination, and an unfair economic and commercial order.  However, there was no greater threat to humanity than the existence of thousands of nuclear weapons.  No person could feel safe on the planet until each one was destroyed.

CATHERINE BOURA (Greece) said that her country, one of those most severely affected by the Second World War, remembered with pride the role of its forefathers in the historic victory against inhumanity and tyranny.  In 1940, Greece secured the first victory against fascism; in 1944, it was left a ruined country in rubble and poverty, a State which had lost 10 per cent of its population and 86 per cent of its Jewish community.  “It was the vision of a better world that made us join in 1945 the 50 nations which established the United Nations”, she said, adding that those nations had resolved to create a world where peace and reconciliation would prevail.  The year 2015 marked 70 years from the founding of the United Nations.  The challenges faced today were different from those 70 years ago.  Many were global in scale and could only be successfully tackled if countries worked hand-in-hand with perseverance and resolve.  The lessons learned from the war should strengthen international commitment and efforts to ensure peace and security, to support justice and human rights and to promote progress and development.

MAHLATSE MMNELE (South Africa) noted his nation’s efforts to work with all the members of the United Nations to eliminate the scourge of war, as was witnessed just 70 years ago.  At the same time, South Africa was regretfully aware of the many crises that remained unresolved.  Therefore, this anniversary must sharpen the international community’s resolve and commitment to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or sovereignty of any State.  As the world was to converge later in September to celebrate the seventieth anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations, it would be crucial for all to stop and reflect on “how far we have come”.

ANTONIO DE AGUIAR PATRIOTA (Brazil) said that today was a day of reverence and remembrance.  “Today we honour the innumerable men and women across the globe who sacrificed their lives to defend liberty, eradicate intolerance and uphold justice,” he said, paying homage to the tens of millions of innocent civilians who perished in the largest conflict ever fought and those war victims who were subjected to horrific policies of extermination and genocide.  Brazil was proud of its contribution to the cause of the Allies — the cause of the United Nations — during the conflict and in peacetime.  Brazil’s soldiers contributed to the liberation of Italy and the overall victory over fascism, and the country had become a founding member of the United Nations.  In order to renew the world’s commitment to the principles of the Organization, “we should be as ambitious as the statesmen who once conceived a new global order based on universal values,” he said, adding that at the heart of that endeavour was updating the framework for the maintenance of international peace and security — namely, reform of the Security Council.

AN MYONG HUN (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said that thanks to the persevering efforts of the peace-loving and progressive countries and peoples of the world after the end of World War II, much had been achieved in the struggle to safeguard world peace and security.  However, moves of domination, subjugation and interference designed to destroy sovereignty and block the independent development of other countries had continued.  Today, the Korean peninsula remained one of the most dangerous hot spots, and tensions in and around the peninsula were a source of great concern.  The cruel nuclear threat, blackmail and hostile policy of the United States, the number one nuclear-weapon-holding State, for more than half a century had pushed his country to possess nuclear weapons.  The ever-increasing United States nuclear threat had left his nation with no other choice but to bolster its nuclear deterrent capabilities.  The scourge left by World War II in Asia remained unremoved 70 years after the war, he said, noting that Japan, an enemy State and a defeated State that had occupied Asian countries during the war and committed unimaginable crimes against humanity, had not yet recognized and apologized or made reparations in a convincing manner.

FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France) said that the European continent in 1945 was just a field of ruin after a war which had culminated in the Nazi’s barbaric acts of the Holocaust.  The United Nations was built upon those ruins of war, but also upon the system of collective security inherited from the Second World War.  Listing a number of lessons learned from that war, he said the first was that to address conflict from merely a security standpoint was insufficient; human factors and the root causes of conflict must be addressed.  Another lesson was that capacity for action was linked to the legitimacy of institutions.  The United Nations must therefore adapt and be reformed to reflect today’s realities.  In that connection, France was in favour of a reformed Security Council with both categories of membership expanded.  Another lesson learned was that credibility was key; in that regard, he asked what credibility the Council had if it was unable to act in the face of an aggression in Syria that had claimed more than 220,000 lives to date.  France had an initiative in place for the permanent Council members to collectively and voluntarily refrain from the use of veto in the case of grave crimes such as those taking place in Syria.  Another lesson learned was that there could be no peace without justice.  That requirement also applied to Syria, he said, where those responsible for mass crimes must be held responsible.

RAFAEL DARÍO RAMÍREZ CARREÑO (Venezuela) paid tribute to those who sacrificed their lives to protect the right to life by fighting fascism and Nazism and expressed hope that World War II would be the last world war.  By founding the United Nations, the international community had adopted measures to advance peace and security, development and human rights, and it had prohibited the use of force as a means to resolve disputes.  Venezuela had never attacked another country.  Today, 70 years after the end of World War II, a vast portion of the planet has seen fascism and hatred resurge.  There were so many means to wipe out humanity from the face of the earth today.  The challenges seen today, including colonialism and violent extremism, were tangible proof that much remained to be done.  World War II was a bad memory that should never be repeated.

MARÍA CRISTINA PERCEVAL (Argentina) said the commemorative session called upon the international community to collectively reflect on the surprising capacity of humankind to do untold evil.  It was necessary to make a commitment to the future by understanding the greatest tragedy in history.  The United Nations was created by the world from the scourge of war, and one must never forget the innocent civilians who lost their lives or the courage of those who fought.  Totalitarianism must be condemned, past and present, including forms of anti-Semitism and intolerance.  It was not enough to merely condemn those acts or rely on rhetoric.  The use of war as a means to settle disputes must be rejected.  There was a resurgence of military activities and conflicts around the world, as well as religious fanaticism, which fomented hate and intolerance.  Thousands of migrants drowned while they tried to flee their countries.  The world needed to catch up and take action to address the climate of mistrust that prevailed.  No more time could be lost.  The world must make a promise to never again enter into war.

GHOLAMHOSSEIN DEHGHANI (Iran) said that today the world honoured the millions upon millions of soldiers and civilians who perished resisting the Nazi military war machine.  That war had devastating impacts well beyond the boundaries of the belligerent forces.  People of many countries, including Iran, suffered immensely during that war.  The lesser known sufferings deserved particular attention.  One of the lesser known tragedies of that time was the invasion of Iran, which claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands, in the battlefield as well as from resulting famine and disease.  On 4 September 1939, Iran declared its neutrality, a position reaffirmed the following year.  However that position was not respected, and the country became entangled.  Iran was already a major producer of oil, which the Powers were keen to exploit, and the Allies invaded in 1941 and occupied the country.  Being used as an instrument by foreign Powers devastated Iran and brought nothing but misery.  The Second World War would not have happened if there had been a commitment on the part of all States to respect the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of all States.  As a founding member of the United Nations, Iran placed the greatest importance on the principles of the Charter and called on States to abide by it.

YASHAR T. ALIYEV (Azerbaijan) said every family in his country had been affected by the Second World War, with 600,000 serving in the armed forces in selfless dedication.  Over the course of the war, his country had also produced armaments and fuel.  Baku had secured nearly 80 per cent of all oil extracted in the Soviet Union, 90 per cent of its naphtha and 96 per cent of its lubricants.  Four out of five Soviet aircrafts, tanks and trucks during that period ran on fuel produced in the Baku refineries from oil extracted in the Baku oil fields.  Lessons of the war remained relevant for sharing with the contemporary world and for the future of international relations.  The desire to save humanity from the scourge of war had inspired countries to create the United Nations.  Thus the commemoration must serve as an opportunity to reaffirm the commitment to the principles and purposes of the Charter.  As such, he called upon Member States to unite efforts in dealing with challenges and threats to international peace and security, with the United Nations playing a central role, and to make every effort to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State.

VLADIMIR DROBNJAK (Croatia) said the true added value of events such as the commemoration of victims of the Second World War was not to open old wounds but to enable the world to unite in unanimous determination not to let it happen again.  To achieve that, the world must strongly support full respect for international law and the peaceful settlement of disputes, as well as the inviolability of internationally recognized borders of sovereign States.  “Victory of the Second World War gave us the United Nations,” he said.  “The United Nations is and should remain at the forefront of the fight against totalitarianism, racism, anti-Semitism, all kinds of hatred, intolerance, human rights violations, discrimination and xenophobia, which are unfortunately still rooted in the world we live in.”  It was only through inexhaustible work to improve the present that people could rightfully honour the greatest sacrifice of millions who died in their fight to make the world a more tolerant, free and peaceful place for mankind.

KAHA IMNADZE (Georgia) said that out of 700,000 Georgians fighting in World War II, 350,000, or 10 per cent of the country’s population at that time, died on the battlefield.  Immediately after the end of the war, the civilized world translated the lessons it had learned into concrete actions, including establishing the Charter.  However, the international system continued to be shaken by continuous violations of the fundamental principles of international law, including through the use of force against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Member States.  It was particularly disappointing that a founding member of the Organization and permanent member of the Security Council, which was supposed to be a custodian of peace, was in breach of international law and undermining the very foundations of the Charter by annexing the territories of its neighbours, occupying 20 per cent of Georgia and conducting aggressive acts against sovereign Ukraine.

TALAIBEK KYDYROV (Kyrgyzstan) said the international community would never be able to forget the price paid for the victory of the bloody and devastating Second World War.  His country had done all in its power to cope with that war’s consequences.  Every sixth inhabitant was at the front, more than 100,000 died in battle, and more than 1 million worked in a supportive capacity in fields and factories.  The celebration of the end of the war should be a way of looking into the future as well as remembering the past.  The international community founded the United Nations as a reaction to the scourge of that war.  Those commitments were particularly relevant today, and he fully supported the appeal to all States to unite their efforts to combat threats to international peace and security.  That was the best way to honour the memory of the millions of people who perished during the Second World War.

MILAN MILANOVIĆ (Serbia) said that today, the world was confronting rampant terrorism, hatred, xenophobia, violence and brutal, senseless executions that violated the very same values enshrined in the Charter.  Mankind was faced with the real possibility of obliteration if measures were not urgently taken to prevent climate change and create conditions for sustainable development.  It was also a time when the world was ushering in a new global development agenda, the aim of which was to free itself from extreme poverty.  The end of the Second World War epitomized the will of the world to live free from the scourge of war.  From its inception, the United Nations strove to establish and maintain stable and collective peace based on agreements reached through broad consensus between nations.  In the United Nations, the foes of yesteryear joined hands to promote democracy, equality and development.  In order to achieve its goals and to meet the new challenges of the twenty-first century, however, the Organization needed reform.

ANDREJ LOGAR (Slovenia) said that in preserving the memory of all affected by the ravages of war, the United Nations had been established to prevent such terrible times from ever happening again.  Keeping in mind the lessons of history, it was important to remember sacrifices made.  In 70 years, the world had become ever more complex and uncertain with an ever-changing security environment and a mix of new challenges.  With a common desire to never again face the terrible suffering and destruction of the Second World War, the international community must reflect on possible ways of jointly working towards building trust, reaffirming common goals and commitments and strengthening collective decision-making capacities.  Nations should come together and look for effective solutions at a time when the world was in great need of partnerships aimed at overcoming the crises and obstacles to development, he said, adding that partnerships were an inevitable foundation for ensuring cooperation, building mutual trust and achieving common aims through inclusive dialogue and harmonized action.

OH JOON (Republic of Korea) said that after suffering untold sorrow, the international community decided to found the United Nations, the first ever universal international organization in human history that aimed to institutionalize global efforts to prevent war and seek permanent peace.  Genuine recognition and remorse over past wrongdoings was the first step in preventing another war and securing durable peace.  Building on the experience of the past seven decades, the international community should ensure that the Organization celebrated 70 more years of peace and prosperity.  As long as the international community continued to cherish the principles and purposes of the United Nations, 70 years from now the world would be better, safer and more equal.

Right of Reply

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Japan said that the statement made by the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea criticizing Japan was regrettable, given that the purpose of the meeting was to commemorate all victims of the Second World War.  It was not an appropriate forum to deal with the specific issued raised by that delegation.  Japan had, based on feelings of deep remorse and through upholding all purposes and principles of the Charter, walked the path of a peace-loving nation that contributed to world peace, while respecting freedom, democracy and human rights.  He urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to take concrete action to comprehensively resolve the issues it had referred to.

Also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said that the theme of the meeting today was the seventieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War and to commemorate all victims of that war.  The scourge of that war remained “unremoved” in South‑East Asia because of the Japanese authorities.  The meeting today was a very proper forum to take up the issue of past crimes committed by Japan during the Second World War.  Japan was described as a defeated enemy State that had committed unimaginable crimes against Asian peoples, and yet had not made any recognition, apology or reparations for its crimes in a clearly convincing manner until today.  The Pyongyang Declaration had not yet been implemented because of the sinister attitude of the Japanese authorities, which was to cover up its past crimes forever while pursuing “various actions”.

Speaking again, the representative of Japan said that he would refrain from a detailed rebuttal.  However it was unfortunate that there were armed conflicts among States, even after the Second World War, and there were still infringements against human rights and humanitarian law in some countries.

Also speaking again, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said Japan needed to make a political decision to liquidate its past crimes and should include totally extinguishing its ambition for militarism.  Japan’s past crimes could not be equivocated, diluted or forgotten.  The criminal history of that country could never be covered up or erased, and he urged Japan to make full and clear recognition, apology and reparations for its past crimes.

For information media. Not an official record.