Palestinian Flag-Raising at United Nations, Global Refugee Crisis among Top Issues during Day Three of General Assembly Debate

GA/11695
30 September 2015
Seventieth Session, 19th, 20th & 21st Meetings (AM, PM & Night)

Palestinian Flag-Raising at United Nations, Global Refugee Crisis among Top Issues during Day Three of General Assembly Debate

As the Palestinian flag was raised outside United Nations Headquarters in New York for the first time, President Mahmoud Abbas appealed to the General Assembly for support to see an independent State of Palestine take its rightful place among the community of nations.

“We will not accept temporary solutions or a fragmented State.  We seek to form a national unity government that functions according to the programme of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and we seek to hold presidential and legislative elections,” Mr. Abbas told Member States gathered for the third day of the Assembly’s annual general debate.

He thanked nations that had voted in favour of an Assembly resolution less than three weeks ago to raise the flags of non-member observer States at the United Nations.  He added: “The day is not far when we will raise the flag of Palestine in East Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Palestine.”

At the same time, the Palestinian President extended a sincere call to the Israeli people for peace based on justice, security and stability and he called on the Security Council and Assembly to uphold their responsibilities before it was too late for peace to be achieved.

Several Member States recognized the State of Palestine’s achievement in raising its flag as they highlighted the growing number of global and regional conflicts around the world and the accompanying surge in refugees and migrants.  Pakistani President Muhammad Nawaz Sharif said he looked forward to welcoming Palestine as a full member of the United Nations as he laid out a new peace initiative that aimed to end the Kashmir dispute with India that began in 1947.

Detailing his country’s efforts to protect more than 2 million Syrians and 200,000 Iraqis, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said his country would keep giving the Palestinians the political and economic support they needed to live a dignified life.  The President of Croatia, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, said migration was nothing new.  Yet 60 million people were on the move worldwide and there was a lack of clear guidelines and comprehensive policies.  Nearly 80,000 people had entered Croatia since mid-September and Croatia had joined a line of European Union and South-Eastern European countries that had been heavily burdened by the crisis.

At the crossroads of the Middle East, Europe and Africa, Malta was the only country in Europe, perhaps around the world, to dedicate 100 per cent of its limited military resources to saving people at sea, said Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.  This year had broken all records for people desperately trying to escape persecution and hopelessness.  He urged the global community to make a committed response to fight smugglers.

Norway’s Prime Minister, Erna Solberg, said the massive refugee crisis with 60 million people fleeing their home countries was the result of the violation of international law, universal norms and human rights by States and non-State actors alike.  The world’s foremost serious humanitarian crises were, in fact, political crises as power-hungry politicians, armed groups and military leaders had ignored the plight of their people in South Sudan, Yemen, Syria and Iraq.

José Manuel García Margallo, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain, said there must be a solution that protected the dignity and rights of refugees and migrants, and proposed the creation of an international covenant on migration.

Also figuring prominently in today’s debate was the link between development and peace, with leaders from some countries in conflict and post-conflict situations describing how violent extremism threatened development in their respective nations.

Haider Al Abadi, Iraq’s Prime Minister, said that his country’s development level had dropped after a series of wars and due to the policies of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorial regime, as well as the embargo and deprivation that accompanied international sanctions.  After a change in the political regime and creation of a democratic environment, development conditions improved and remarkable progress ensued in reducing mortality, increasing children’s enrolment in school, reducing the gender equality gap, and improving living standards.

He warned, however, that the “evil will” carried out by terrorist groups such as Al-Qaida and Da’esh and those that followed from the Ba’ath regime had thwarted development and spread murder and destruction.  Today the people of north and west Iraq were either displaced or suffering in their cities and villages.

Agila Saleh Essa Gwaider, Acting Head of State of Libya, said that over the past year, his country had witnessed the emergence of Da’esh, which asserted control over several Libyan towns and was aiming to stretch its influence from Mauritania to Bangladesh.  Most Libyans were looking for any possible means to end the unjustified fighting and to restore stability to the country.  But they had fallen hostage to armed groups, and hundreds of thousands of Libyans had become internally displaced persons or refugees.  They could return home only if a strong Government enjoying the confidence of all Libyans existed.

Also today, several representatives of small island developing States took the floor, calling for a binding agreement at the twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to be held in Paris in December, to limit global temperature rise to well below 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.  They also welcomed the establishment of Sustainable Development Goal 13 on urgent climate action and Goal 14 on the conservation and sustainable management of oceans.

Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of Samoa, said climate change could not be wished away, and had significant security implications.  Its impacts threatened the very existence and viability of some small island nations.

Christopher J. Loeak, President of the Marshall Islands, refused to accept the attitude that “if the water comes, it comes” and the notion that his country would willingly relocate to another nation, stressing that the future of his country was more in the hands of his fellow world leaders than in his.

Also speaking today were Heads of State and Government, as well as other high-ranking Government officials, from Bulgaria, Panama, Sri Lanka, Costa Rica, Ghana, Togo, Brunei Darussalam, Bangladesh, Sweden, Fiji, Belgium, Lebanon, Latvia, Serbia, Djibouti, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Nauru, Comoros, Equatorial Guinea, Slovenia, Vanuatu, Republic of Moldova, Morocco, Benin, Monaco, Azerbaijan, and the Central African Republic.

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

The Assembly will meet again at 9 a.m. on Thursday, 1 October, to continue its general debate.

Statements

ROSEN PLEVNELIEV, President of Bulgaria, said the rising extremism could not be contained by borders and hundreds of thousands of people were at the doorsteps of Europe reaching out for a helping hand.  As a result, nationalistic parties that fed on people’s fears were seizing the momentum.  “We should not wait for the crises to appear on our television screen before we act,” he said, noting that every crisis could be traced back to an initial phase of human rights violations.  Turning to climate change, he added that in 2015, the international community had an opportunity to end two decades of intense climate negotiations and begin a new era.  His country would contribute to the successful finalization of that process.

As long as there was conflict in Syria, he continued, the refugee crisis would not go away.  Europe was currently focused on the establishment of a solidarity scheme that would allow the fair relocation and resettlement of refugees among all member States.  Apart from the fear of infiltration of extremists on European soil, the issue of illegal human trafficking had also been raised.  The European Union needed to not just address the crisis but to solve it because the region represented “the largest area of human rights, peace and democracy in the world”.

Condemning the deliberate destruction of world cultural heritage sites in Syria and Iraq by terrorists as a severe blow to all human civilization, he underscored the role of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in protecting those areas during armed conflicts.  He welcomed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.  He also said that just across from his office, in the very heart of the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, there were temples of different religions — an orthodox church, mosque, synagogue and Catholic cathedral — which was a testament to his country’s tolerance, wisdom and respect for diversity.

JUAN CARLOS VARELA RODRÍGUEZ, President of Panama, said he represented a peaceful, robust and noble people.  His Government believed in dialogue and consensus as demonstrated at the Conference of the Americas, held in Panama earlier in 2015.  It had served as the backdrop to the rapprochement between Cuba and the United States and he hope it would lead to the end of the embargo.  He further noted progress made towards resolving the dispute between Venezuela and Colombia through dialogue and Colombia’s progress towards peace within its borders.  He called on the great powers to join forces, as they had to end the Second World War, to work together to forge a roadmap to defeat terrorism and ensure that peace would prevail.  He then called on Palestine and Israel to agree on a solution that would allow for the Jewish State of Israel and the State of Palestine to live side by side in peace.

In an era of social networks, the exchange of information between Governments and security agencies was key in differentiating between a tourist, a business traveller and those travelling to engage in organized crime.  Also facing irregular migration flows, Panama had pledged to treat migrants with dignity, he said, adding that the joint fight to resolve the problems that had led “our brothers” to leave their countries must continue.  It was unjustifiable, in a world with so much wealth, for so many to live in poverty.  He reminded States that politics was meant to serve society.  Women suffered most from poverty, displacement and inequality of opportunities.  Their rights and freedoms must be defended and promoted.  He called on countries to combat femicide, trafficking and all violence against women.  Further, the upcoming Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change must reach a definitive, universal agreement.  The Coalition of Tropical Forests, chaired by Panama, had worked on measures to mitigate and prevent the impacts of climate change on forests, including procuring resources to that end.

Turning to the importance of housing and education in eliminating poverty, he said Panama had social and infrastructure plans, which, along with its robust financial system, would improve lives.  That financial system was being protected from misuse through cooperation with other Governments.  Panama was increasing its financial transparency and making progress on sharing information on tax matters at the bilateral level.  However, such measures should not harm the competitiveness of other States and those issues should be added to the United Nations agenda.  He encouraged Security Council reform and was seeking to bring about a rapprochement in country positions in that regard, he said, pledging his country’s commitment to serving the United Nations so that peace and dialogue could prevail.

MAITHRIPALA SIRISENA, President of Sri Lanka, said “a new era of democracy” had dawned in his country on 8 January 2015, ushering in justice, freedom and equality.  In two consecutive elections during the last eight months, Sri Lankans had elected a new President and a new Government.  The Government had already introduced amendments to the Constitution, reinforcing good governance, pluralism and democracy, and had included in its new vision the objectives of sustainable development and reconciliation.  Although his country had suffered from conflict, it had succeeded in eliminating terrorism, which continued to throttle other developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, and could share its experiences in that regard.

Sri Lanka, one of the oldest representative democracies in South Asia, had preserved its democratic ethos despite prolonged conflict, he said.  It had succeeded in sustaining State social welfare policies despite factors that had hindered a high economic growth rate.  Those policies, including universal free education and free health care, had never been compromised.  Even during the years of conflict, Sri Lanka had achieved high levels in the Human Development Index.  Noting the importance of the empowerment of youth and women, he stressed the need for a fresh universal approach to sustainable and inclusive development.

The Buddhist ethos prevalent in Sri Lanka, he said, recognized three kinds of human conflicts:  between the human being and nature, human to human and within the human being.  The latter was the root cause of all conflicts, as the first two occurred when the battle was lost within the human being.  Extremism, overconsumption and exploitation of the environment were among the results of man’s inability to overcome his craving.  Sustainable development, therefore, should be built upon self-discipline and equity.  Practice of those values on personal, community, national and global levels would mark a giant leap forward for human kind, he said.

KOLINDA GRABAR-KITAROVIĆ, President of Croatia, said that while the challenge of migration was nothing new, now 60 million people were on the move worldwide and there was a lack of clear guidelines and comprehensive policies.  “We need sound legal, social, economic, humanitarian and logistical solutions,” she said.  The current migrant crisis was a multidimensional problem that required multilateral solutions.  Nearly 80,000 people had entered Croatia since mid-September and it had joined a line of European Union and South-Eastern European countries that had been heavily burdened by the crisis.  The most difficult task had been finding the right balance between national, regional and global perspectives.  Croatia asked for consensus within the European Union and a global response.  “I ask that we focus on the rule of law, the conventions that we signed” at the end of the Second World War, she added.

It was important to educate children, the future generations, to work harder at achieving global citizenship and to build on the United Nations idea of a global classroom, such as the Global Education Initiative, in which Croatia was proud to be a champion country.  Legislation was not enough.  “We need a change in mindset and behaviour that is only possible through education,” she added.  Croatia welcomed the work of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations and their review of United Nations peacekeeping operations.  Croatia hoped the delivered report would provide guidance for increasing the effectiveness of the United Nations peacekeeping operations as a key mechanism for ensuring global peace and stability.

The uncontrolled spread of conventional weapons was another significant threat and Croatia had been proud to preside over the First Review Conference to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which continued to pose threats long after a conflict ended, in Dubrovnik, a city that had suffered attacks from those weapons.  Pleased to note the results of the Iranian nuclear programme negotiations, she expected the global community would learn to what extent it would contribute to the stabilization of the Middle East and beyond.  The world needed to stand together to mobilize its efforts to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Sham (ISIL/ISIS), or Da’esh, and all forms of intolerance and discrimination.  There was no development without security and no real security without justice and human rights, rule of law and good governance.  On the European continent, peace had to be implemented in the Ukraine, with respect of the ceasefire and the Minsk peace plan.  Croatia remained committed to Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, she said, stressing the importance of the stability of South-East Europe.

LUIS GUILLERMO SOLÍS RIVERA, President of Costa Rica, said the General Assembly should translate words into deeds to show that the community of nations was “much more than the sum of our individual interests” and to consolidate its leadership as the centre of global governance.  As such, the Secretary-General should be elected in a more democratic manner.  Along with Estonia, Costa Rica was leading efforts to establish a process that would be transparent, democratic, equitable, inclusive and consistent with the United Nations Charter.  The time had come for a woman to become Secretary-General.

The Security Council must assume its responsibility to maintain peace, he said, noting that its actions often came too late.  He confirmed support for the Secretary-General’s Rights Up Front initiative as well as France’s proposal to restrict the veto in the case of mass atrocities.  While all agreed on the importance of strengthening the rule of law, he said permanent Council members had committed violations and were the largest conventional arms producers and exporters that had continued transferring weapons to conflict areas despite Arms Trade Treaty prohibitions.  States that had signed that Treaty should ratify it and signatories must implement it effectively.  He also called for States, beyond the 115 who had already done so, to endorse the Humanitarian Pledge calling for nuclear weapons to be on equal footing with other weapons of mass destruction subject to prohibition.

The General Assembly and the Organization as a whole must be strengthened.  Gender equality and women’s empowerment must be consistent with commitments in the Declaration, with national policies that brought closer the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  The challenge was to act as a single, effective and coherent organization to protect and promote the rights of people, including the right to development, as demonstrated in the negotiating process leading to the new Agenda’s adoption and that would again be shown in agreement at the twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.  He called on all States to adhere to the Geneva Pledge for Human Rights in Climate Action.  With regard to security, he said transnational threats must be addressed collectively and condemned terrorism in all its forms, adding that he was distressed at the growing use of armed drones outside conflict zones and the reinterpretation by some Governments of human rights and humanitarian principles.

JOHN DRAMANI MAHAMA, President of Ghana, said that his country had not been among the 51 nations who had convened in San Francisco in April 1945 because it had taken another 22 years for the then-Gold Coast colony to gain independence.  Like Ghana, many countries represented today were not in existence as sovereign nations then.  Calling for greater inclusivity at the United Nations, he noted the tragedies of Sandra Bland, who had died in police custody in Texas, and Aylan Kurdi, who had washed up on the shore of a beach in Turkey.  The list of names was long, with thousands dead in Syria, Pakistan, Nigeria, Mexico, Afghanistan, Somalia and thousands more dead in the Mediterranean Sea while attempting to flee poverty and political strife.  Some of the very institutions that had been set in place to protect peace were the very ones violating their mandates.

Most of the poorest people in the world were women, he said, and women’s empowerment programmes and policies had not addressed how many traditions inculcated a vast inequality between men and women.  Ghana’s Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty programme provided cash grants and entitled recipients to free health care.  The country had also made tremendous progress in the basic education target of the Millennium Development Goals.  But, what had happened beyond the primary level was another matter altogether, with young girls often taken out of school and married off.  Ghana had launched a campaign, under the auspices of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), to keep young girls in school until they had completed their education.

Watching the Pope being driven through the city in a tiny Fiat 500, he continued, was a powerful lesson about the changes that must be made to confront the future.  The Pontiff’s small vehicle, surrounded and dwarfed by humongous sports utility vehicles, had also reminded him of the relationship between so-called developing nations and the wealthier, larger nations of the world.  In recent years, many African nations had embraced democracy and fair elections had become a regular occurrence on the continent’s calendar.  His own country was considered one of the “bright lights of Africa”.  But, with the current uncertainty in international markets, strong cooperation with bilateral and multilateral partners was necessary to achieve fiscal consolidation.  Africa also faced a shortage of power and the road ahead demanded that the international community achieve energy sufficiency in a sustainable manner.

FAURE ESSOZIMNA GNASSINGBÉ, President of Togo, said his country, since becoming a member in 1960, had done its utmost to contribute to the Organization’s noble ideals and, in turn, had received much from the “great United Nations family”, with support, including from the United Nations Office for West Africa and the United Nations System in Lomé.  Following successful elections in April, Togo expected to prioritize social and economic inclusion to strengthen its citizens’ well-being and enable their participation in the development agenda.  With regard to the fight against Ebola, he expressed gratitude to all parties that had mobilized significant resources, saluted the heroism of healthcare personnel and expressed condolences for lost lives.  While the virus had been weakened, but not completely conquered, he urged the world community to remain vigilant.

Despite the great economic growth in Africa in recent years, actions and financing that went beyond classic financial structures were needed.  Following the Addis Ababa Conference, he hoped the donor community would spare no effort to assist African countries more constructively and with fewer restrictions.  It was regrettable if cultural values, which formed the bedrock of African societies, were sacrificed in the search for more appropriate mechanisms for financing development.  Pressure should no longer be brought to bear on their States to adopt initiatives that would lead to cultural shocks, he urged, underscoring that certain Goals, such as those connected to sexual and reproductive health, not be conditions for the granting of resources.

His country’s fight against Boko Haram, terrorism and racism must continue along with the international community, he said.  Today’s realities also included the impact of climate change, poverty and threats to human rights.  The Togolese already experienced every day the effects of climate change, including coastal erosion that was threatening coastal populations.  Their survival required more urgent responses and significant investments.  In that regard, climate change financing was critical and should not come by way of a reduction in traditional official development assistance.  Togo, with the support of the African Union, would host a special summit in 2016 on maritime security, given the economic security and environmental challenges connected with seas and oceans.  Noting the recent closure of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Togo, he said the eight years of cooperation had enabled his country to make significant progress in defending human rights and expected to continue unswervingly efforts in the same regard.

HASSANAL BOLKIAH MU’IZZADDIN WADDAULAH, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, said that while the United Nations was not a panacea, that had not hindered its overall success.  Among its achievements he noted its ability to contain pandemic diseases and the efforts of humanitarian workers and peacekeepers.  With a membership of 193, there were high expectations of what the Organization could do to address an ever-increasing range of issues that affected the daily lives of people.  He was pleased that the new Agenda had encapsulated most if not all of those concerns.  Its inclusiveness signified the trust and faith placed in the Organization.  Therefore it was important to fulfil national and collective responsibilities to see that the Agenda would be realized.

The United Nations had provided his country with a platform to enhance its bilateral and multilateral relationships since it had become a Member State in 1984 and its values had been the foundation of the country’s stability and prosperity, he said.  The region, through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), shared principles of territorial integrity, non-interference, consensus, rule of law and good governance as guidance towards closer cooperation.  He envisioned the creation of a close-knit global community with similar values and principles that could be created through cultural exchanges.  Ultimately, that could prevent new conflicts and allow resources to be used for socio-economic development.

Thus he agreed with the Secretary-General on the need to strengthen partnerships between the United Nations, regional and sub-regional organizations.  In that context, he noted the work plan on preventive diplomacy adopted by ASEAN members two years ago.  In addition, he joined others in condemning terrorism and reiterated support for all international efforts to prevent and eliminate all its forms.  It was crucial to address the root causes of terrorism and extremism in a comprehensive manner.  One way to approach that was to resolve the plight of the Palestinian people, which remained at the core of the Middle East conflict.  He looked forward to improvements that would make the United Nations more effective in responding to the ever-increasing demands of its Members.  “The success of our Organization lies in our hands,” he said, calling “our collective efforts and strength” its best attribute.

MAHMOUD ABBAS, President of the State of Palestine, said the question of Palestine was one of the first issues brought before the United Nations, yet it remained unresolved as the Organization and its Member States remained unable to end the injustice inflicted upon its people and help them exercise their right to self-determination and freedom in their independent and sovereign State.  Continuation of the status quo was completely unacceptable because it meant surrender to the brute force of the Israeli Government as it continued its illegal settlement expansion in the West Bank, especially in Occupied East Jerusalem, and continued its blockage of the Gaza Strip, in defiance of United Nations resolutions and the agreements signed between the two sides under international auspices.

Despite the obstacles imposed by occupation, the Palestinian National Authority had worked to build the foundation of its State, its infrastructure and sovereign national institutions, he said.  It had made progress as affirmed by several international bodies, including the United Nations, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF).  Its accession to membership in international organizations, conventions and treaties was not directed against any one, but aimed to safeguard its rights, protect its people and strengthen its international legal status and identity.  “We will not accept temporary solutions or a fragmented State.  We seek to form a national unity government that functions according to the programme of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and we seek to hold presidential and legislative elections,” President Abbas said.

The Palestinian people aspired to see the independent State of Palestine take its rightful place among the community of nations, he said.  He was very grateful to the countries that voted in favour of the resolution enabling the flag of the State of Palestine to be raised at United Nations Headquarters.  “The day is not far when we will raise the flag of Palestine in East Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Palestine,” President Abbas said.  He recognized the European countries and parliaments that had reaffirmed Palestine’s natural right to independence and appealed to those countries that had not yet recognized the State of Palestine to do so.  He extended a sincere call to the people of Israel for peace based on justice, security and stability for all.  He also called on the Security Council and the General Assembly to uphold their responsibilities before it was too late to achieve peace.

Palestine welcomed global and European efforts, including the French initiative calling for the formation of an international support group to achieve peace, he said.  It was no longer useful to waste time in negotiations for the sake of negotiations.  What was required was to mobilize international efforts to oversee an end to the occupation in line with the resolutions of international legitimacy.  Until then, he asked the United Nations to provide international protection for the Palestinian people in accordance with international humanitarian law.

Referring to various agreements, including the transitional Oslo Agreement and its annexes and economic agreements, he said that as long as Israel refused to commit to these agreements and violated them, Palestine could not continue to be bound by the agreements.  “We therefore declare that we cannot continue to be bound by these agreements and that Israel must assume all of its responsibilities as an occupying power, because the status quo cannot continue…” he said.  He reiterated that the current situation was unsustainable. “Our people need genuine hope and need to see credible efforts for ending this conflict, ending their misery and achieving their rights,” he said.

AHMET DAVUTOGLU, Prime Minister of Turkey, recalling the story of three-year old Aylan Kurdi whose body washed ashore earlier this month in the Aegean Sea in an attempt to escape the barrel bombs in his native Syria, urged the world community to unite its efforts “no later than today” to effectively deal with the complexities and tragedies facing humanity.  Assuming more than its fair share of the burden, his country had provided protection to more than two million Syrians and 200,000 Iraqis, and now sheltered the largest number of refugees in the world.  Embracing those fleeing war and persecution, it had invested to date almost $8 billion, while international contributions remained at a “mere” $417 million.

To date in Turkey, he said 66,000 Syrian babies had been born, and 9 million medical consultations and 280,000 surgical operations performed.  Also, 230,000 school-aged Syrian children received formal education, while another 460,000 would be integrated in the education system by year’s end.  Further recounting significant numbers of Syrians who had drowned, fled the country or had been displaced, he cautioned that the tragedy would not end before the Syrian people had a legitimate government that truly represented their will and enjoyed their full consent.  Until then the world community must act swiftly to provide them safety in their homeland.  As a promised voice for the Syrians, he proposed the inclusion of the item “Global awareness of the tragedies of irregular migrants…with a specific emphasis on Syrian asylum-seekers” in the agenda of the Assembly’s current session, which had been accepted this month.

Also suffering were Palestinians, he said, for whom peace must be achieved based on an independent, sovereign and contiguous Palestinian State.  Underscoring the importance of their right to live together as one, he said his country would continue to provide Palestinians the political and economic support to enable them to lead a dignified life.

Also of utmost concern was the issue of foreign terrorist fighters, which required enhanced international cooperation, especially in the area of information exchange, he said.  Such cooperation was also needed to address other global challenges relating to security, poverty and inequality.  Those were priorities for his country evidenced by the leadership roles it had undertaken in certain initiatives.  He expressed hope for a political solution to the situation in Ukraine and the recognition of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and Georgia, adding that cooperation with Africa was also an important pillar in his country’s foreign policy.  He said his country remained committed to a just, comprehensive and lasting solution in Cyprus based on the political equality of two peoples and equal ownership of the island.

SHEIKH HASINA, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, said that terrorism remained a major impediment to global peace.  She was a victim of terrorism herself, with the brutal assassination of her family in 1975, and her Government maintained a zero-tolerance policy to all forms for violent extremism.  The other formidable development challenge was climate change and regional cooperation was critical to fostering sustainable development as well as achieving peaceful societies.  Bangladesh had taken a leading role in building regional cooperation processes and was working to develop infrastructures to enhance trade and people-to-people contact among Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal.

Over the years, she continued, peacekeeping and peacebuilding had emerged as flagship activities of the United Nations and her country was proud to be associated with those endeavours as a leading troop contributor.  In its development efforts and in engagement in global affairs, Bangladesh was guided by the vision of a global order based on peaceful coexistence, social justice and freedom from poverty and aggression.  Today, Bangladesh was widely recognized as a role model for the developing world.  With one of the fastest poverty reduction rates in the world despite a modest resource base, the country was on track to meet six Millennium Development Goals.

As with the Millennium Development Goals, she added, Bangladesh wished to lead by example with the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.  The country was currently developing the next five-year development plan, for 2016-2020, and her Government was determined to ensure that no one was left behind.  Committed to upholding the rule of law and ending a culture of impunity, Bangladesh was pursuing the culprits of war crimes, crimes against humanity, rape and genocide committed during the 1971 Liberation War.  The country had also recently settled the maritime and land boundary demarcation-related issues with neighbours, India and Myanmar, she said, urging the nations of the world to renew the collective resolve to free the world from oppression and injustice.

STEFAN LÖFVEN, Prime Minister of Sweden, stated that the current global crisis was a global crisis of responsibility.  The international community should dramatically increase the number of resettlement places, expand legal venues of migration, and base all efforts on the principles of non-refoulement and the right to seek asylum.  It was also extremely urgent that all countries of the European Union treated the people seeking refuge in the Union in a spirit of humanity and solidarity.  “Sweden will do its share,” he said, noting that his country was the largest per capita receiver of asylum seekers in Europe and was increasing its funding to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).  Further, the Security Council and its major powers must shoulder the responsibility and end this bloodbath.

Meanwhile, other conflicts should not be forgotten, he cautioned.  A seven-year-old child in Gaza had already lived through three wars.  Peace talks needed to be resumed so that Israel could live alongside a democratic and viable Palestinian State.  Sweden would also step up efforts for peacekeeping and crisis management and was contributing civilian personnel to missions in South Sudan, Afghanistan, Liberia, Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Middle East.  Working to keep the peace also meant following through on the promises of disarmament, including by pursuing legal, practical and technical solutions to fully rid the world of the remaining 16,000 nuclear weapons.  Further, he added, creating a low-carbon and climate-resilient world economy while protecting land and ocean ecosystems was not a choice, but a necessity for survival.

To fully grasp the potential of the new world economy, he added, the international community must remove old colonial prejudice and false conceptions of large and small, North and South, East and West.  Sweden wanted to make the United Nations more effective, transparent and fit for purpose.  In 2017, Sweden would seek non-permanent membership of the Council and would strive tirelessly for a Council that could respond swiftly to the security challenges of the time.  A reformed Council must reflect the realities of today, with adequate representation of Africa, Asia and Latin America.  Sweden also supported efforts to limit the use of the veto, he said, and fully believed that international solidarity was the best foundation of shared peace and security.

MUHAMMAD NAWAZ SHARIF, Prime Minister of Pakistan, said peacekeeping had been one of the key responsibilities of the United Nations and Pakistan was proud of its historic and current role as a major troop contributor.  It viewed its participation as its obligation to uphold international peace and security.  Pakistan was a primary victim of terrorism and its operation, Zarb-e-Azb, was the largest anti-terrorism campaign against terrorists anywhere.  It involved more than 180,000 security forces and was complemented by an all-inclusive National Action Plan.  Terrorism could not be defeated unless its underlying causes, including poverty and ignorance, were addressed.  The spread of terrorism across the Middle East was an unprecedented security challenge.  The tragedy of Palestine had intensified and the accepted avenue for peace between Palestine and Israel, a two-State solution, appeared further away today because of the intransigent stance of the occupying Power.  Yet the Palestinian flag was being raised just outside this hall and Pakistan hoped it was just the first step.  He looked forward to welcoming Palestine as a full member of the United Nations.

Pakistan welcomed the comprehensive nuclear agreement reached between Iran and the P5+1 (China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States and Germany), he said.  Pakistan-Afghan relations had undergone a positive transformation after the advent of the National Unity Government in Kabul.  Pakistan would continue to help resume the stalled dialogue process but could do so only if it received the required cooperation from the Afghan Government.  Pakistan was encouraged that the international community, including the major powers, desired the continuation of the peace process in Afghanistan.  It welcomed China’s proactive role in promoting peace and prosperity in Afghanistan and the region and its vision of “One Belt, One Road.” 

Development was the Pakistan Government’s key priority, he said.  When the Composite Dialogue was launched with India in 1997, the two countries agreed it would encompass two principal issues:  Kashmir and peace and security.  The urgency of addressing these two issues was even more compelling today.  Since 1947, the Kashmir dispute had remained resolved and Security Council resolutions were not implemented.  “Three generations of Kashmiris have only seen broken promises and brutal oppression.  Over 100,000 have died in their struggle for self-determination,” he said.  “This is the most persistent failure of the United Nations.”

He said that President Sharif had said one of his first priorities after assuming office for the third time in June 2013 was to normalize relations with India.  He had reached out to the Indian leadership to emphasize that their common enemy was poverty and underdevelopment.  Yet ceasefire violations along the Line of Control and the Working Boundary were intensifying.  He wanted to use this day to propose a new peace initiative with India.  Its first element was that Pakistan and India would formalize and respect the 2003 understanding for a complete ceasefire on the Line of Control in Kashmir.  Secondly, Pakistan and India would reaffirm they would not use, or threaten to use, force under any circumstances.  Thirdly, steps would be taken to demilitarize Kashmir.  Lastly, Pakistan and India would agree to an unconditional mutual withdrawal from Siachen Glacier, the world’s highest battleground.

ERNA SOLBERG, Prime Minister of Norway, said the Charter had served humanity well for 70 years despite many challenges.  Yet as the Organization’s seventieth anniversary was celebrated this year, the forces of disorder, discrimination, violence and disruption were increasing.  International law, universal norms and human rights were being violated by States and non-state actors alike.  One consequence was the massive refugee crisis with 60 million refugees and displaced persons.  Respect for internationally recognised borders — one of the important rules of the new world order created in 1945 — had been blatantly violated in Europe over the last several years.  The international community had to return to a situation where all States abided by their obligations under international law.  The world’s four most serious humanitarian crises were, in fact, political crises.  Power hungry politicians, armed groups and military leaders had ignored the plight of their people in the countries concerned:  South Sudan, Yemen, Syria and Iraq.

The United Nation was carrying out three important reviews in 2015:  peace operations, the peacebuilding architecture and Security Council resolution 1325, she said.  The permanent Security Council members had a particular responsibility and Norway urged all States to join the proposed code of conduct to let the Council act decisively against mass atrocities.  Norway supported the French initiative to suspend the use of the veto in such situations.  Norway saw progress in Iraq and had hope for South Sudan.  It was committed to supporting the transitional arrangements to help South Sudan out if its self-destructive conflict.

The crisis in Syria, which had started with peaceful protests calling for freedom, had allowed extreme terror groups like ISIL to gain a foothold, she said.  Norway would follow global norms as it responded to the crisis and would receive refugees at its borders, in line with the 1951 United Nations Convention on Refugees and its international human rights obligations.  It had agreed to take in a high number of refugees from Syria’s neighbouring countries for resettlement under United Nations quotas.  Norway would be hosting a donor conference in cooperation with Germany and the United Nations.

The fight against extremism, which was increasing in different shapes and forms, had to be maintained, she said.  International cooperation at all levels was essential.  In June, Norway had hosted the European Conference on Countering Violent Extremism, where a European Youth Network was launched.  The United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy would remain a cornerstone of global efforts and Norway welcomed the Secretary-General’s initiative to develop a United Nations action plan  The Prime Minister stressed the importance of including girls and women in the planning and implementation of efforts to counter violent extremism.

JOSAIA VOREQE BAINIMARAMA, Prime Minister of Fiji, noting its growing economy and strengthened democracy, said his country was undergoing a real revolutionary change.  It had engaged in social reform, introduced free schooling at the primary and secondary levels, and made efforts to bring governmental programmes to the country’s remote and underserved areas.  The increase in domestic investments, construction, tourism, and jobs indicated confidence in the country’s future.

Noting that human rights were the foundation of democracy, he said his country now enjoyed an unprecedented level of human rights protection.  He had invited a number of mandate holders under the Human Rights Council to visit Fiji and looked forward to ratifying core human rights instruments in the not-so-distant future.  Underscoring that Pacific small island developing States had “trouble being heard”, he said their unique perspective called attention to the detrimental effects of climate change.  Developed as well as developing nations must do more to address them.

Earlier this month, Pacific leaders had met in preparation for the Climate Change Conference in Paris, calling for a legally binding agreement, which recognized loss and damage as a stand-alone element, as well as climate change measures that were 100 per cent grant-financed.  He welcomed the Goals on the sustainable conservation of oceans and seas, adding that his country would host the 2017 Triennial Oceans and Seas Global Conferences.  In pursuit of environmental protection, it had begun a green growth framework based on inclusive and sustainable development.

JOSEPH MUSCAT, Prime Minister of Malta, said that while the United Nations had obviously been a force for good, it was still a work in progress, in a vastly uneven world, plagued by conflict and with the Mediterranean, the cradle of civilization, turned into a graveyard.  His country, which found itself at the crossroads between the Middle East, Europe and Africa, was the only one in Europe, and probably around the world, that dedicated 100 per cent of its limited military resources to saving people at sea.  The current year had broken all records in terms of desperate people attempting to flee from persecution and hopelessness.  That was not a Mediterranean or European problem but a global phenomenon that needed a global response.

Saving lives, he continued, must remain the priority, and Europe had intensified its search and rescue operations.  But the problem also required a committed response to taking on the smugglers.  Further, while it was crucial to give shelter to those fleeing from war, it must also be clear that a free-for-all policy was not on the table.  People who did not qualify for asylum should be returned and safe countries of origin which did not help in return should face sanctions.  The war in Syria had to be tackled, but it was a delusion to think that solving Syria would solve the migration phenomenon.  From the whole list of forgotten conflicts in Somalia and Eritrea and other places to climate change, mass displacement of people was a key feature of the current world.  “It is not only desperation that moves people, but also aspiration,” he said.

While the European Union had been very much in the news for failing to agree unanimously on a mandatory distribution system for refugees, he added, no other group of nations had gone as far as Europe had.  “We now need a Bretton Woods of migration,” he said, with rules and institutions that saw all the members of the international community, and not just a few, share the phenomenon of mass migration, with legal channels and instruments to deal with crises.  Instead of a European quota, there should be a global quota system for migrants, not only for this but all crises.  Turning to the Climate Conference in Paris, he added that climate change was a global challenge that called for an ambitious, fair, balanced and legally binding agreement.  Malta, which was the first country to alert the international community to the need to address climate change, aspired to securing an equitable deal at that Conference.

CHARLES MICHEL, Prime Minister of Belgium, said that since 1945 the world had changed.  There had been progress, but the challenges of the current generation were numerous, and interrelated.  The new Agenda must give new impetus to the work of the United Nations.  Noting that the destiny of Europe and Africa was interlinked, he said it was important to learn from past errors.  Although he had been born after the colonial period, he still felt a sense of responsibility.  He sought a free, equal partnership, in mutual respect with African States.  With 1 billion talented and energetic inhabitants, Africa would have an increasingly important role in the world.

The first condition for development was respecting the rule of law and partnerships, he said.  There was no democracy without legitimacy and there was no legitimacy without constitutional respect.  Singling out several African countries that were following that path, he condemned the recent coup in Burkina Faso and called for political dialogue in Burundi between the opposition and the Government and adherence to law in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Asserting commitment to both security and development in the Sahel, he also noted Belgium’s support for other peacekeeping operations in Africa, among them the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).  In addition, he said that development must create jobs and lead to greater income for States, which must fight corruption to allow for good investments.

While all were increasingly faced with the rise of terrorism, he said, it was important to fight the “fanatics” while respecting the rule of law.  Da’esh must be eliminated, but elections should be established that would lead to a legitimate government at the same time.  He supported the relaunch of dialogue among the parties in Syria.  He noted that 60 million people had been displaced in the world and said that countries such as Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, hosting refugees from Syria, required assistance.  He was pleased at measures taken by Europe in that regard.  Noting the slowdown of the peace process in the Middle East, he asserted that raising the Palestinian flag at the United Nations was a good symbol, but insufficient.  While Israel’s security must be assured, its settlement activity would not help.  The territorial integrity of all countries must be protected.  In that context he called for implementation of the Minsk Agreement by all parties.  Peace and security were constant goals.  There would always be disputes, but their resolution must always lie in dialogue.

TAMMAM SALAM, President of the Council of Ministers of Lebanon, said that the tragic picture of Aylan Kurdi, the drowned Syrian boy, had described the story of a tormented people, drifting into the seas to nowhere, jam-packed on sidewalks and train stations, waiting for visas or just a meal.  Lebanon believed that the best solution to the problem and the least expensive for Syria and its neighbours was to tackle the tragedy directly at its roots.  Urging the prominent powers of the world to rise above reluctance, he added that only a political solution would safeguard Syria’s unity, independence and territorial integrity while fulfilling the Syrian’ people’s aspirations for a free and dignified life.  This call stemmed not only from the kinship links between Lebanon and Syria, but also from his country’s firm interest in ending the crisis due to the heavy burden of the massive waves of displacement.

If Europe, he continued, with its sizable capacities and generous humanity, had been confused at the sight of thousands of displaced erupting suddenly in its cities, Lebanon, with its scarce capacities had been crawling for the past four years under the burden of 1.5 million displaced Syrians.  The public infrastructure and hosting communities of his country had been exhausted to the maximum at a time of steadily declining international aid.  Lebanon reiterated its appeal to donor countries to increase their financial contribution.  Further, terrorism was the most daunting consequence of the conflict.  A group of Lebanese military forces were still being held by terrorist groups.  Lebanon was not an incubator of terrorists and military and security apparatuses had assumed increasing responsibilities in the fight against terrorism.

Turning to the Iran nuclear deal, he added that his country hoped this development would open a new page in international relations and would mark the beginning of an improvement in the regional environment.  He also reiterated his call to the international community to compel Israel to cease its violations of Lebanese sovereignty and cooperate with United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).  The repeated attacks on Al-Aqsa mosque would have serious repercussions as Israel would be held responsible for the failure in reaching a peaceful settlement to the conflict.  The East was the cradle of heavenly messages and the source of the alphabet, he said, calling on all countries to extend their hands to stop the death toll in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and the State of Palestine.

RAIMONDS VĒJONIS, President of Latvia, recalled that, in July, the world had marked the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Welles Declaration on the non-recognition of the Soviet annexation of the Baltic States.  The United Nations firm stance had been a great support in that regard.  Today, far too often, international norms and principles continued to be violated and the United Nations had been unable to intervene.  The Organization, and in particular, the Security Council, must be able to fulfil its mission with a renewed sense of responsibility.  Latvia supported expanding the Council in both membership categories, in particular the addition of at least one non-permanent seat to the Eastern European Group of States.  Latvia also backed the proposal to restrain the use of the veto in situations involving mass atrocity crimes.  The Council had recently been blocked by the use of a veto in two cases, the search for justice in the downing of Malaysian flight MH17, and the attempt to block the Russian Federation’s aggression in Ukraine.  In that regard, the Russian Federation must end its support to separatists and use its influence to make them adhere to the Minsk Agreement.

The horrific conflict in Syria which had destabilized the whole region had entered its fifth year.  “The people of the international community must not abandon the people of Syria,” he said, adding that concerted action was needed to defeat the evil of terrorism and for achieving lasting peace in the region.  Increased migration from Middle Eastern and African countries to Europe had become one of the greatest humanitarian challenges of our time.  Migration also persisted in the Asia-Pacific region and the Americas.  Beyond immediate humanitarian responses, those trends required long-term, comprehensive solutions.  Emphasis must be put on the root causes of increased illegal migration, including by strengthening the prevention of conflict.

The European Union was an important partner of the United Nations, as demonstrated in the Central African Republic, Mali and other places, he said.  His country would continue to support United Nations peacekeeping.  This year, the Organization would conclude “two of the most important international processes of our time”.  The world had just adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, which must “make real changes” to end poverty and build action-oriented policies.  Most importantly, the involvement and accountability of all stakeholders at all levels would be critical to the success of the Goals.  Those targets would be greatly reinforced by the approval at the Climate Conference in Paris of a new universal agreement to address climate change.  “Failure to undertake ambitious mitigation actions cannot be accepted; any further postponement will make adaptation extremely costly or even unfeasible,” he said, adding that his country supported the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

The United Nations would continue to play an important role in the search for solutions to future challenges through global discussion, raising awareness, creating expertise and building trust, he said.  At the forefront of those issues was the fast evolution of technology, which was a source of progress and growth.  Finally, he said, next year the United Nations would choose a new Secretary-General; it was important that the selection process be transparent and inclusive.  It was high time for an Eastern European candidate to be chosen for the position, as it was the only regional group that had never been represented as Secretary-General.

TOMISLAV NIKOLIĆ, President of Serbia, said the world had been tragically divided into the enormously rich and a majority living below the threshold of human dignity.  The United Nations continued to talk about climate change non-committally, as if Member States did not see that it intensified frictions caused by the inequality that already existed in the world.  Most of the developing countries were responsible for just a fraction of global warming.  They must have the opportunity to grow their economies under the same conditions by which others had already become prosperous, even though harmful gas emissions could amount to more than the rich might tolerate.  Wealthy countries could not use the concern over global warming as a pretext for the industrial stagnation of developing ones.

Moreover, Serbia had been the only country that had withstood attempts made by other states against its cultural heritage under the protection of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), he said.  In an attempt to falsify history — with the support of certain countries — Albania had submitted a request to UNESCO that Serbian heritage be declared Kosovan.  Should UNESCO accept that request, it would set a precedent for the legalization of violence over national, cultural and religious identity of any peoples.  He therefore called on the United Nations to not allow the monasteries in Kosovo and Metohija — the “spiritual backbone” of the Serbian people — be declared the cultural heritage of the Albanian people.

Finally, the problem of mass migration from the Middle East posed the greatest challenge of today, he said.  Despite its difficult economic situation, Serbia was making every effort to provide a decent stay and accommodation for refugees.  However, if the international community, especially the European Union, failed to make concrete efforts to solve the problem, a humanitarian catastrophe of an even larger scale threatened Southeast Europe.  The “ghettoizing” of the asylum-seekers by some Governments, which erected wire and razor fences to keep out refugees, ran counter to the 1951 Refugee Convention.  The United Nations, therefore, needed a comprehensive plan implemented within the shortest possible time, lest countries altogether leave migrants to the mercy of human smugglers.

ISMAËL OMAR GUELLEH, President of Djibouti, first paid tribute to Roble Olhaye, the late Permanent Representative of his country to the United Nations, commending his contribution to diplomacy.  He noted that this year marked the seventieth anniversary of the United Nations founding, the twentieth anniversary of the Beijing Declaration, and the fifteenth anniversary of the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals.  Despite progress, there was still a long way to go, with poverty, hunger, and unemployment prevailing.  More recently, the world witnessed a rise in violent extremism and the health system of several countries overwhelmed by the outbreak of Ebola.

He noted that many developing countries, including his, were still suffering the consequences of the 2008 financial crisis.  Establishing a credible multilateral trade system that catered to the specific needs of Africa and the least developed countries was important.  The current deadlock in the World Trade Organization (WTO), particularly the Doha Round of negotiations, was a cause for concern.  As for climate action, African States stood ready to do their part in reducing emissions based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibility.  Despite its marginal contribution to emissions, his country bore the brunt of climate change, especially drought and flooding.  Based on climate impact models developed by Yale University, his country had embarked on a policy of renewable energy towards 2020, which included use of hydro, wind and solar energy.

Africa was the first region to have fallen victim to terrorism and violent extremism, he said.  The continent’s experience of fighting terrorist groups, including Al-Shabaab, must be shared.  Welcoming a high-level meeting on countering violent extremism chaired by the United States President on Tuesday, he stressed no country alone could combat terrorism, which knew no borders.  All stakeholders must unite in analysis of root causes and take action.  To that end, his Government aimed to establish a centre of excellence for combating extremism.  Turning to tension in the northern part of his country occupied by Eritrea, he urged the neighbouring nation to abide by a mediation agreement reached five years ago.  He called for resumption of a peaceful political transition in Yemen, while stressing the importance of a stable security environment in Somalia.  He also reiterated Africa’s call for a permanent seat in the Security Council.

CHOUMMALY SAYASONE, President of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, said that the international community must undertake comprehensive reform of the Organization so that it could respond to emerging challenges more effectively.  He welcomed the adoption of the new Development Agenda, and noted that to realize its goals and targets States must honour the political commitment to strengthening global partnership and cooperation at all levels.  Praising the parties that had reached agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme, he said the issue of Palestine should be resolved peacefully with two independent States, Palestine and Israel living side by side in peace based on the Arab Peace Initiative and the borders recognized in relevant resolutions.  He welcomed the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba and hoped it would lead to an end to the embargo.

Turning to the huge impact of climate change, especially on the least developed countries, he said it was incumbent upon the international community to help them build long-term capacity.  He hoped the upcoming Climate Conference in Paris would adopt measures to address climate change in the coming years.  On regional matters he noted that ASEAN aimed to build an integrated economic community by the end of 2015.  His country would assume ASEAN chairmanship in 2016, the first year of that community.

This year was also his country’s fortieth anniversary, he said.  It had gone through a period of healing the wounds of war and advancing national development.  However, challenges remained from the impact of regional and global economic and financial crises and natural disasters.  He called on development partners to continue their support for sustainable development.  Another obstacle to development was the legacy of war on agriculture and people’s livelihood, development of infrastructure and investment programmes in areas contaminated by unexploded ordnance.  Their clearance required huge resources.  He called upon those countries not yet party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions to accede to it.  Party to seven international human rights instruments, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic had put forth its candidacy for membership in the Human Rights Council for the period 2016-2018.  He looked forward to support for that candidacy.

BARON DIVAVESI WAQA, President of Nauru, said only with United Nations legitimacy could the international community expect the real-world implementation of the agreements reached in New York.  However, legitimacy was a fragile thing, and therefore, the United Nations must put the principles of universality, adaptability and accountability at the centre of its work to remain a power force of progressive change around the world.  All partnerships — multilateral, bilateral or public-private — required a respect that recognized genuine development allies.  “Taiwan” was a democracy that could contribute meaningfully towards prosperity in the world, he said, calling for the inclusion of the region in the development agencies of the United Nations.

Furthermore, in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, the United Nations needed to go beyond capacity-building and engage in institution building, he said.  International and regional agencies should back in-country engagement, thus leaving behind durable domestic institutions run by a skilled national workforce.  Additionally, the Security Council must reflect the geopolitical realities of the world today and therefore, expand the permanent and non-permanent members.  Nauru supported the inclusion of Germany, India, Japan and Brazil in the permanent category.  He added his backing to the Secretary-General’s appointment of a Special Representative on Climate and Security.

Climate change would prove the largest test of international and domestic institutions — climate impacts even the most powerful countries.  A strong, legally binding agreement on climate in the Climate Conference in Paris was absolutely crucial, with ambitious mitigation contributions from all countries.  Many of the major economic powers had already come forward with meaningful solutions, yet the intense lobbying to accept an unsatisfactory outcome had already begun.  In the international process, that had often meant the presentation of a take-it-or-leave-it deal, which would neither solve the climate problem ahead, nor keep the United Nations legitimate as a unifying force for all.

AGILA SALEH ESSA GWAIDER, Acting Head of State of Libya, said the goal of the Charter to save future generations from the scourge of war remained elusive.  His country — a “fledgling democracy seeking to find its way” and to transform itself into a transparent, democratic country with effective and stable institutions — was threatened by the spread of weapons and armed groups, some of which turned intro criminals and terrorists.  Over the past year, Libya had witnessed the emergence of Da’esh, which asserted control over several Libyan towns.  That entity aimed at stretching its influence from Mauritania to Bangladesh and making the whole region subject to the “rule of the jungle”, while claiming it as the “rule of Islam”.  That ideology was totally rejected and resisted by the Libyan people.

Those groups were an essential part of the militia alliance of Fajr Libya, which had seized the capital, Tripoli, and repeatedly announced that it would continue to support Ansar al-Sharia while describing them as “revolutionaries”.  “All these terrorist and extremist groups are nothing but tools to implement the policies of foreign countries,” he said, adding that those countries provided them with arms and ammunition.  The Libyan authorities’ efforts to fight terrorism were hampered by external support for terror, in addition to the continuation of the arms embargo and the Security Council’s insistence to not approve requests for an exemption from the arms embargo in order to arm the Libyan army.

The majority of the Libyan people were looking for any possible means to end the unjustified fighting and to restore stability to the country, he said.  Nonetheless, they had fallen hostage to armed groups.  Hundreds of thousands of Libyans had become internally displaced persons or refugees, but hoped to return to their homes as soon as possible.  That could only be fulfilled by agreeing on a strong Government enjoying the confidence of all Libyans.  The House of Representatives, as the legitimate authority elected by all Libyans, had been supportive of dialogue as a strategic option to resolve the political and security crisis in Libya.  However, there was intransigence in positions and misinterpretations of the flexibility shown by the House of Representatives.  That had even been misunderstood by Bernardino León, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, who “tried to bring us back to square one”.

Against that backdrop, he stressed several points.  First, the Council of Representatives was committed to dialogue as an approach to resolving the security and institutional crisis in Libya, but it would not agree to any regression with regard to what had been approved by the majority so far.  Second, no agreement should be imposed on any future Government to take any steps in favour of terrorist organizations. And third, the House of Representatives hoped to receive a final draft of an agreement that did not reward those who had committed crimes, destroyed State property and seized the capital by force of arms.  Turning finally to the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean, he supported all international efforts to reduce the risks to illegal migrants, provided they fell within the framework of respect for the principles of sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of other States.  Using force against smuggling boats off Libya’s coastline could increase the complexity of the country’s crisis, and would not help reduce smuggling of migrants.

CHRISTOPHER J. LOEAK, President of the Marshall Islands, welcomed the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, but noted that his country could not afford a “set it and forget it” mentality, which had too often marked past international efforts.  His Government had a powerful window to merge recent national planning improvements and set up architecture to measure progress and pinpoint gaps.  “These gaps are not only our own, but also those of our partners,” he said, stressing the need for accountability for collective performance.  He also welcomed the establishment of a comprehensive assistance programme with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) aiming at building national capacity to monitor and evaluate nuclear contamination and address health strategies and other key sustainable development goals benchmarks.

As a low-lying island nation, with no higher ground, climate change posed a severe threat to its very security, he said.  The future of his nation was perhaps more in the hands of his fellow world leaders than it was his own.  He refused the very notion that his country would willingly relocate to another nation, and the notion that “if the water comes, it comes”.  Recalling that the Pacific islands region served as a horrific theatre for a global power struggle in an earlier age, he said that decades later, the region was facing again the complex push and pull of larger international politics while expressing support for New Zealand’s initiative during its Security Council presidency in holding a meeting on small island developing States and threats to international peace and security.  That meeting revealed issues that slipped under the global radar.  The Council should establish a regular agenda on security issues in those small island nations.

His country, like many others, believed that the awareness of the catastrophic impacts and humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons must underpin efforts toward nuclear disarmament.  As a former United Nations trust territory, his country had a unique legacy shared by a few other nations — 67 nuclear tests were conducted in his nation by its former administrator, the United States.  He urged the Secretary-General not to omit the powerful example of his nation when encouraging progress on nuclear disarmament and test-bans.  It was essential for the survival of humanity that nuclear weapons were never used again, under any circumstances.

IKILILOU DHOININE, President of the Comoros, said that he was speaking for the last time after five years in office and wished to convey a message of solidarity from his people and his Government.  Today, as in yesteryear, nothing prevented the international community from combatting pollution and poverty, and so the world must act.  The leaders of the world had a responsibility in the face of an impending disaster, and must work rationally to save humanity.  Leaders must take advantage of the unprecedented framework to make the planet sustainable and equitable before 2030.  His country endorsed the new 2030 Agenda that built on the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals and opened up new goals for the next 15 years.  It was the duty of the international community to work towards equality for all, including women’s empowerment.

One could not imagine that man would thrive on this Earth unless urgent action was taken to combat climate change, he said.  Forests must be managed sustainably and ocean ecosystems must be preserved.  It was also necessary to put an end to biodiversity loss.  The goal was to build a new and sustainable world through a new road map.  The survival of the world depended on such bold goals.

For decades, Africa had been beset with colonialism, he said.  Now, the world felt the consequences of wars that forced many men, women and children to leave their homes, board makeshift boats, and live in inhumane conditions or remain vagrants.  The barbarous acts perpetrated by terrorist movements needed to be combatted by the international community through the use of one voice to say “never again”.  In a world of complete deprivation, how could a small country be engaged in such a fight? he asked.  Against the will of the Comoros people, France had used its veto and continued to exert power over the territory.  This was not acceptable, and he demanded that international law be applied.  He asked the community of nations to ensure the application of international law so that a lasting solution to that dispute could be achieved.

He welcomed the fact that the State of Palestine had finally been able to raise its flag at the United Nations, and that the United States and Cuba had renewed relations.  It was heartening that States could overcome deadlocks and foresee a peaceful future for their peoples.  He also welcomed the new Iran deal, which boded well for international cooperation.  As his country stood ready after 40 years of independence to begin the second phase in its history, he remained confident that the next president of the Comoros, speaking from the rostrum of free countries, would be able to say that his country had achieved its own territorial integrity.  He was also confident that his successor would be able to thank the United Nations for acting on the Charter on behalf of the Comoros.  The time had come for all to work together to build a free, open and prosperous country that was confident both in its future and in its people’s destiny.

TEODORO NGUEMA OBIANG MANGUE, Vice President of Equatorial Guinea, said that his country always trusted the United Nations despite some attempts to monopolize the Organization.  While renewing faith and trust in the world body, which promoted peace, security and stability among our nations, his country was also concerned about some weaknesses it had shown in preventing and eliminating conflicts.  Member States must act in solidarity to address the proliferation of conflict in Africa, the Middle East and Europe, which were in turn causing massive migrations.  The United Nations was not a police force.  Member States must submit themselves to international law and norms.  The success of the Organization depended on neither the skills of the General Assembly Presidents nor the intelligence of the Secretaries-General.

Equatorial Guinea was a small African country rich in oil, he said.  Due to preventive measures, the country succeeded in staving off external attempts to take over its oil.  His country was successful in achieving social development.  Based on its Horizon 2020 national development plan, the country was seeking to build infrastructure, improve productivity, build human capital, and diversify the economy with energy, mining, agriculture and service sectors as pillars.  He reiterated Africa’s call for two permanent seats and five non-permanent seats in the Security Council.  Turning to the upcoming Climate Conference in Paris, he said the Amazon and Congo Basin should draw special attention as they were the two “lungs” of the earth.

MIRO CERAR, Prime Minister of Slovenia, welcomed the adoption of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the new Sustainable Development Agenda, noting that his country remained strongly committed to environmental protection, ensuring its sustainability in national and international contexts.  Based on its experience with beekeeping, and in view of multiple threats to bee populations, Slovenia believed bees were critically important for sustainable food production and biodiversity.  His Government was proposing the “World Bee Day” and seeking a United Nations endorsement.

He said that without respect for human rights, there could be no security or economic and social development, and vice versa.  When his country gained independence, respect for human rights was a pivotal founding principle of the newly formed State.  Since then, commitment to promoting human rights, especially the protection of the most vulnerable, including children and elderly, had further strengthened and represented a core element of his country’s foreign policy.  Slovenia could contribute to the goal of promoting respect for human rights by serving as a Human Rights Council member for the 2016-2018 term.

War and conflicts had caused dramatic growth in mass displacement, reaching unprecedented levels, he said.  Massive waves of refugees and migrants were fleeing their homes, with hundreds of people dying in their search for a better life.  While the international community should increase assistance to those in need and the countries hosting large numbers of refugees, there was a need to act more decisively to reach sustainable political solutions in the countries of origin.

He said his country was committed to conflict prevention and peaceful conflict resolution.  Wherever possible and applicable, States should opt for diplomacy, mediation and conflict prevention.  In that regard, he welcomed the recent historic agreement on the Iranian nuclear issue as proof that even the most complex issues could be resolved peacefully.  Slovenia would continue with activities aimed at bringing the global community closer to universal human rights standards and a decent life for all, and would remain a strong supporter of the environment in which every human being felt safe.

MELTEK SATO KILMAN LIVTUVANU, Prime Minister of Vanuatu, said that the impact of climate change could not be understated, and pointed to a bleak future for humanity. Despite significant achievements of the United Nations over the past seven decades, many challenges remained.  The world was split into “haves” and “have nots”.  In that regard, he called on developed countries to contribute to United Nations humanitarian appeals and to address the world’s growing inequality.

The 2030 Agenda promised to be transformative particularly for those at the margins of society.  Vanuatu welcomed the establishment of Goal 14 on the conservation and sustainable management of oceans and recognized the need for a framework within which the implementation of that Goal would be progressively assessed, benchmarked and driven forward.  “For too long, we have witnessed the decline of our oceans and seas”, he stressed, reaffirming his country’s support for the proposed triennial United Nations Oceans and Seas Conference to perform the role of driving progress on that Goal.  Vanuatu also welcomed the focus on gender in the 2030 Agenda.  While his country had made notable progress in women’s access to basic education and health services, “I want to see more tangible progress in women and girls’ advancement and their active participation in national leadership,” he said.

The recently concluded Addis Ababa Action Agenda, he continued, had dealt with issues relating to financial resources, accessing appropriate technology and improving national capacity.  Calling for all developed countries to meet their official development assistance (ODA) commitments, he thanked China for its recent announcement of assistance and welcomed the least developed country initiative of establishing a technology bank in Istanbul.  In the area of information and communications technology (ICT) development, his country had made great strides and had recently been presented with the United Nations ICT for Development Award.  ICT would remain one of the key tools for implementing the Sustainable Development Goals in Vanuatu.  He urged the United Nations to assist developing countries — especially small island developing States and least developed countries — in developing their technological capacity.

However, he went on, none of that work would mean anything if a strong agreement was not reached at the Climate Conference in Paris.  “Without addressing climate change, sustainable development for small island developing States cannot be achieved,” he stressed.  Pacific island leaders continued to voice their concerns about the issue, calling for an agreement to keep temperatures well below 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.  They also called for Annex 1 countries to contribute significantly to their collective adaptation needs.  Finally, he called on the United Nations not to lose sight of the issue of decolonization, a “long overdue” challenge that should become one of the past.

TUILAEPA SAILELE MALIELEGAOI, Prime Minister of Samoa, said that his statement would be devoted to Sustainable Development Goal 13, which was to “take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts”.  Climate change would continue to be the major occupation and priority policy determinant for Samoa well into the future.  The same was likely to be true for other Pacific island States and the wider small island developing States.  Climate change was the single most urgent challenge confronting mankind.  It was facilitated largely through human-induced activities driven for the most part by profit motives with some degree of insensitivity to the consequences of such action on others, particularly those most vulnerable to climate change.  In most cases those peoples had barely contributed to the causes of climate change in the first place.

Climate change was not a future phenomenon, he said.  It was real, irreversible and already happening with far more frequency.  It was no longer a question of when, but rather the severity of the magnitude of the impacts and the full cost society must bear.  Even now in Samoa, his people were suffering drought conditions.  That would give way to the onset of the cyclone season predicted to have a high likelihood of severe cyclones in the Pacific region.  As a cross-cutting issue, ambitious actions or solutions at the national and international levels to try to address root causes of climate change would inevitably end up either being compromised, watered down or put-aside due to political, social and economic considerations taking precedence over basic climate logic.

Climate change was not a small island developing State concern only, he said.  It impacted every country, but some more extensively than others, because their capacity to respond quickly and effectively was constrained.  Climate Change could not be wished away, and had significant security implications.  Its impacts threatened the continued existence and viability of some small island developing States.  Even those countries which had been in self-denial to date of the phenomenon must surely now accept the weight of scientific evidence.

Against the backdrop of the existential threat that climate change posed, especially to atolls and low lying islands, he said that small island developing States had long been advocating for ambitious mitigation efforts by Member States with the capacity to do so, and for a global goal of limiting the rise in average global temperature to well below 1.5°C to prevent some of Samoa’s low-lying islands from being submerged by sea level rise.  Those pleas over the years had largely gone unnoticed.  However, developed countries were no longer insulated from the reach and destructive force of such climate-related events as cyclones, bushfires, flooding, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and droughts.

Climate change was a societal problem that required a decisive response from the global community, he said.  It was a challenge that should unite the world, not divide it.  No country could deal with that problem alone.  Rather, people must work cooperatively in a partnership of common but differentiated responsibilities.  True partnerships should be underpinned by trust.  Appointing blame for past wrongs would not restore the environment to its pre-industrial state.  There was hope, and Samoa’s whole focus was now on the Climate Change Conference in Paris.

HAIDER AL ABADI, Prime Minister of Iraq, said that, in his country, the development level had dropped after a series of wars and due to the policies of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorial regime, the embargo and deprivation that accompanied international sanctions.  After changing the political regime and creating a democratic environment throughout the country, and with the support of the United Nations and other international organizations, the development conditions had seen a relative improvement.  The country had made remarkable progress in reducing mortality rates, raising the percentages of children in school, reducing the gender equality gap, and improving living standards.  However, the “evil will” carried out by terrorist groups such as Al-Qaida and Da’esh and those that followed from the Ba’ath regime had hindered the development movement and spread murder and destruction.  Today the people of north and west Iraq were either displaced or suffering in their cities and villages.

While his country highly appreciated the support of the United Nations and the international community in its war — including the hard efforts to stabilize the liberated areas by Iraqi security forces — he looked forward to an active contribution by countries and organizations to help repair Iraq’s infrastructure and help aid its reconstruction.  The country had produced a political, economic, administrative and financial package of reforms and had started to work on activating the private sector.  It was also supporting small and medium-sized enterprises despite difficult financial conditions.

Welcoming the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, he said the importance of that declaration was not limited to attaining further development for humankind.  It would also promote a clean and safe environment, protect the rights of the next generation, spread peace and security, eliminate poverty and discrimination and improve health and educational standards.  That agenda required the people of all countries to work hard, but also to provide the United Nations enough space for “constructive movement” to speed up the achievement of those targets.  He expected all countries to adhere to and implement Security Council resolutions 2170 (2014), 2178 (2014), and 2199 (2015) on the prohibition of support, finance and arms for terrorist groups, in addition to the General Assembly resolution related to saving Iraqi heritage.

VALERIU STRELET, Prime Minster of Republic of Moldova, said that the Sustainable Development Goals marked an important chapter in his country’s clean energy programme for the coming years.  The nation was on track to ratify the low-emissions development strategy and during the upcoming Climate Conference in Paris it would support the European Union’s mechanisms to have renewable energy account for 20 per cent of all energy consumption by 2020.  The gradual implementation of the European Union-Moldova Association Agreement adopted last year and the creation of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area brought the Republic of Moldova politically and economically closer to the European Union and helped it to advance the country’s development and modernization.

The world was becoming increasingly turbulent and unsafe, he said.  The illegal use of military force and other forms of violence were widely practiced by States and non-State actors as a means to promote their interests.  Gross violations of international law and a dramatic decline in trust among States had already undermined the central pillars of the international system.  Regretfully, after a period of relative stability, Europe’s security and cooperation system had been seriously shaken.  The annexation of the Crimean peninsula by the Russian Federation, in flagrant violation of international law, and the outbreak of the armed conflict in the eastern regions of Ukraine had directly challenged international peace and security.  Those major negative developments brought back to the world’s agenda the fundamental question of what should be done to restore order and ensure respect for the norms and principles of international law.

For over two decades his country had been divided as a result of the Transnistrian conflict, he said.  However despite external and domestic challenges, it would firmly follow the way of a peaceful settlement.  He reiterated his country’s firm stance that the Russian Federation must withdraw its military forces and ammunition from the Republic of Moldova in accordance with constitutional provisions and international commitments.  The existing peacekeeping operation had fulfilled its mandate and must be transformed into a civilian mission with a relevant international mandate.

The Republic of Moldova had implemented the United Nations Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons, and during the last three years it had destroyed all stocks of cluster munitions and anti-personnel mines, he said.  He shared the international community’s concerns about the emergence of new terrorist threats to democratic values, human rights and world peace.  The Republic of Moldova had also contributed to peacekeeping efforts, and was transitioning from being a beneficiary of peacekeeping to an active contributor.  On United Nations reform, he said one non-permanent seat on the Security Council should be allocated for the Eastern European Group of States and a Secretary-General should be chosen from the region, in keeping with the principle of equitable geographic rotation.

MOULAY RACHID, Prince of Morocco, said a review of the achievements made under the Millennium Development Goals indicated gaps between regions around the world and inside certain countries.  That occurrence, which tarnished the image of collective action within the United Nations, should induce stakeholders to address “malfunctions affecting international cooperation”.  The international community must not only accept global facts on the ground, but also avoid geopolitical calculations that imposed near-impossible conditions to access aid.  Regardless of the usual expressions of solidarity and the level of mobilization, he said the Ebola crisis demonstrated that international aid to affected countries remained insufficient and inaccessible.

Furthermore, he added, bureaucratic decisions and ready-made, non-credible technical reports would not help in achieving development that was sustainable.  Rather, to fulfil people’s aspirations and address their concerns, it was necessary to make an objective assessment of their living conditions and carry out work on the ground.  As a case in point, he said, the reality of Africa was much bleaker and far bitterer than reported by several governmental and non-governmental organizations.  Accordingly, the United Nations must place Africa at the heart of international development to unlock its potential.  He called on regional and international financial institutions to create an action plan for economic transformation in Africa and provide steady resources to fund it.  Without tangible international support, his continent would continue to experience glaring disparities between countries.

Finally, he said that his country’s commitment to address global issues had been reflected in its fight against climate change.  Since its participation in the 1992 Conference on Environment and Development Summit, Morocco had developed a national environmental policy that put in place solar and wind energy to cover 42 per cent of the country’s energy needs by 2020.  Additionally, his State had established an intended nationally determined contribution towards an equitable and solidary international environmental system.  As such, he proposed that Marrakech host the twenty-second Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.  He viewed the Paris and Marrakech Conferences as two complementary milestones in attempts to achieve a qualitative transition in climate change resistance, as well as avoid failures that resulted from poor stakeholder coordination and cooperation.

LIONEL ZINSOU, Prime Minister of Benin, said the Organization was faced with a globalized world in a turbulent time — a multipolar world.  People had aspirations for a prosperous, lasting future, and while considerable progress had been made, it was still possible to go further.  Terrorism, financial instability, food insecurity, mass youth unemployment and pandemics — clearly all countries had their challenges.  However, the problem of good governance, which prevented responses to these threats, needed addressing above all.  The Addis Ababa Action Agenda provided some solutions to fight corruption, but it required coordinated judicial assistance to deny the perpetrators of economic and financial crimes the ability to take refuge in lawless areas.  The United Nations had participated with the African Union to combat corruption, but it also needed to help countries attack impunity at a domestic level.

Additionally, the United Nations must look at conflict resolution more broadly, he said.  No State could alone prevent or resolve strife, and in Africa, the security issue was ever present — a reflection of hostilities that were, in reality, trans-border, and rooted in religious fundamentalism.  Africa was getting organized and required help from the rest of the world.  Not only was the continent a beneficiary of conflict prevention, but also a key actor in the resolution against conflict.  Benin had contributed to peacekeeping operations in Cameroon, Nigeria and Chad, among others, to fight Boko Haram.  To prevent future disputes, Benin called on the United Nations to support inter-religious dialogue, as well as the plight of the least developed countries to improve the conditions of their people.

In terms of the evolution of the United Nations, Benin attached significance to the reform of the Security Council and correction of the injustice done to Africa by not considering it for membership, he said.  It was hard to remain committed to a Council that reflected privileges dating back to 1945; the United Nations, in its seventy-first year, must modernize the Council given the problems before it.  He supported the creation of an independent Palestinian State, as well as the implementation of the nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1, which would ease tensions in the Middle East and encourage the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

GILLES TONELLI, Minister for External Affairs and Cooperation of Monaco, said the dramatic situation which continued to unfold in Syria, and the “barbaric” means used by extremist groups, were horrifying.  The international community could not remain indifferent to that suffering or to the destruction of common human heritage in places such as the temples of Palmyra.  His Principality strongly supported the Secretary-General’s initiative “Human Rights for All” and his endeavour to establish an action plan on preventing violent extremism.  Monaco had also co-sponsored Security Council resolution 2178 (2014) on foreign terrorist fighters and violent extremism.  In addition, the Principality supported a peaceful solution to the Ukraine crisis.

The primary responsibility bestowed by the Charter to the Council to maintain international peace and security led him to commend France’s “courageous” initiative to call for suspending the right of veto by its five permanent members when dealing with situations of mass atrocities.  He officially announced Monaco’s support to that initiative, as well as to the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group’s proposal to develop a “code of conduct” which would apply to all Member States.  In one month’s time, the world would commemorate the fifteenth anniversary of the adoption of Council resolution 1325 (2000) on Women, Peace and Security.  It would be an opportunity to unveil the results of the implementation of the global study on that issue.

Unfortunately, he continued, the world was far too familiar with the devastating effects of conflicts on women.  Along with children, they represented the majority of refugees and displaced persons worldwide.  Convinced of the importance of women’s active and full participation on an equal footing to conflict prevention and the peaceful resolution of conflicts, as well as to peacebuilding and peacekeeping, he called for the implementation of concrete measures on that issue.  He turned next to the issues to be tackled by the first Humanitarian Summit proposed by the Secretary-General, which were of utmost importance as they took into account the emerging crises of climate change, natural disasters and health crises.  The international community must refine a new humanitarian deployment framework to meet those growing and complex needs, ensure its predictable financing and have a long-term development planning strategy in place to fully complete its objective.

The Addis Ababa Action Agenda was adopted to enable the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.  The launch of the Technology Facilitation Mechanism during that summit had translated the spirit of collaboration between all development actors working for developing countries, and bore witness to the will of the international community to concretely strengthen their capacity.  However, those efforts would not be successful without a universal, legally-binding agreement to combat climate change and to push the world towards resilient, low-carbon societies and economies.  To that end, Prince Albert II of Monaco had committed the Principality to halve its carbon footprint by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, and had renewed his commitment to make the Principality carbon neutral by 2050.  Monaco also supported the International Oceanographic Commission’s “2015 Ocean and Climate Platform”, as it was the personal commitment of Prince Albert II to take action for healthy and productive oceans and seas.

ELMAR MAMMADYAROV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, condemned terrorism, violent extremism and separatism in all their forms and manifestations.  In situations of armed conflict or political crisis involving inter-State relations, no solution could be reached which was inconsistent with international law and legal order, particularly where fundamental norms — such as the obligation to respect sovereignty, territorial integrity and the inviolability of the internationally recognized borders of States — were concerned.  He expressed deep concern over the unfolding refugee crisis fuelled by armed conflicts in the Middle East and Africa; he was equally alarmed by increased cases of religious intolerance, particularly Islamophobia, and attempts to associate religions with terrorism.

Describing his country’s concrete contributions to the United Nations, in particular its peacekeeping operations, as well as his country’s “impressive” results on many Millennium Development Goal targets, he went on to say that Azerbaijan was adapting its national strategies to the new Sustainable Development Goals.  On Tuesday, the President of Armenia had delivered a statement before the Assembly, which was “full of usual falsifications, distortions and misinterpretations”.  That President had attempted to lecture others about principles and values which in reality his Government disregarded and opposed.  The international community could recall the brutal massacres by invading Armenian troops of Azerbaijani citizens, as well as the establishment of the military dictatorship in Armenia after murdering the entire political elite of the country.

He said it was well known that Armenia had unleashed the war and used force against Azerbaijan, occupied almost one fifth of its territory, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region, carried out ethnic cleansing and seized areas by expelling some one million Azerbaijanis from their homes.  Recalling Security Council resolutions that had condemned that occupation, he said the Council had also, in those documents, confirmed that the Nagorno-Karabakh region was part of Azerbaijan.  Other international organizations had adopted similar positions.  While Armenia even boasted that his country was one of the most militarized in the world, that country’s speculations on confidence-building measures were “curious”, to say the least.  In fact, the real reasons for the lack of confidence were Armenia’s overt territorial claims to neighbouring countries and aggression against Azerbaijan.

In order to effectively build confidence, it was critical to implement without further delay the plan of withdrawal of the armed forces of Armenia from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, he said.  His country would never be reconciled with the seizure of its territories.  The conflict could only be resolved on the basis of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan within its internationally recognized borders.  If negotiations failed to bring as an outcome the complete and unconditional withdrawal, Azerbaijan would be compelled to use its inherent right of self-defence guaranteed under Article 51 of the Charter.

JOSÉ MANUEL GARCÍA MARGALLO, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain, said 70 years ago, humanity had awoken from the nightmare of unchecked power.  “Law is the reason of States,” he said in that regard; when the reason of law was flouted, nightmares followed.  Respect for sovereignty and the territorial integrity of States were integral to the maintenance of international peace and security.  There were those that thought the United Nations was weak and unable to respond to the challenges of our times; however, he disagreed.  There were encouraging signs, including the recent agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme and the reinstatement of negotiations between the United States and Cuba.  On the issue of Gibraltar, the last colony on the European continent, he hoped to engage in dialogue through the United Nations based on the 1984 Brussels Agreement.

On climate change, he stressed that “time was running out”.  However, there were well-founded hopes that the Climate Conference in Paris could “turn things around”.  The world needed a sustainable growth model. Hopes had already turned into reality thanks to the recent adoption of the 2030 Agenda, and commitment had already turned into action through the creation of the Sustainable Development Goal Fund, initiated by Spain but open to all stakeholders.  The twenty-first century would be the century of the woman, but equality would not happen by itself.  That was why Spain had been promoting equal opportunities for women in all spheres of life.  During its presidency of the Security Council in October, Spain would hold an open debate on women, peace and security, and invited all delegations to take part.

In its history, Spain had been hit by both internal and international terrorism, he said.  Terrorism was born from hatred and disdain for life, and was a crime against humanity.  Such evil was manifested in different forms.  Today, groups such as Da’esh sought to launch attacks and destroy the present model of civilization.  “We must open a common front against Da’esh,” he said, adding that States should not negotiate with terrorists.  That was why Spain had joined the coalition of States fighting armed terrorists in the Middle East.  Stressing the need to respect the dignity and memories of the victims of terrorism, he said that Spain and Romania had decided to propose the establishment of an International Criminal Court against Terrorism, an international jurisdictional mechanism that would complement the actions of the International Criminal Court and would intervene when a State was not in a position to carry out investigations itself.

The images of today’s immense migrant tragedy moved hearts, but the world needed to respond to the issue with reason.  A solution was needed that took into account the dignity and rights of migrants.  In that regard, he proposed an international covenant on migration.  The origin of the migrant crisis was the festering conflicts in places such as Syria, which had a staggering 7.6 million internally displaced persons.  Four million Syrian refugees had left the country.  The world needed to work on two fronts: provide immediate humanitarian aid and support the inclusive political process presented by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General.  On Libya, he called for all parties to come together.  The partition of Libya would be the worst possible solution.  Finally, on Israel and Palestine, Spain was always willing to support the parties in their return to the negotiating table, and was a proponent of the two-State solution.

SAMUEL RANGBA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Central African Republic, said he must “spare addressing international issues”, and instead call world leaders to recent fighting that had taken place in his country.  In 2014, the Central African Republic’s interim President had outlined the dramatic situation in her State, while appealing to the international community to come to the country’s aid.  Due to the blind and savage violence of non-regulated armed troops, the international community unanimously committed their support to the transitional Government, and the United Nations deployed the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).  Supported by that commitment, the head of State worked to establish dialogue with the groups to find social cohesion and stabilization.  The transitional Government drew up a road map to re-establish State authority, assist in the recovery of the economy and organize elections.  Progress had been made: armed groups renounced violence; the economy began to recover; the State set a deadline for elections; refugees exercised their right of return; and Bangui had begun to, once again, “find its charming way of life”.

Alas, just as the Central African Republic had started its gradual recovery and had come to the United Nations to take its place and share the news, the enemies of peace dealt a harsh blow on 25 September with savage killings and other crimes, he said.  It demonstrated that peace and reconciliation were still tenuous, and that the country required supportive action so that it was not drawn once more into a cycle of terrorism.  He asked the international community and the Organization for a stronger presence in his State to “staunch the crime and the violence”.  The development of his country’s people had been dependent on the security situation, but because a handful of individuals needed to satisfy their hunger for power, the outbreak of crises had multiplied on many fronts, and the State, once more, faced diminished resources.

Right of Reply

Taking the floor in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of India said that it was regrettable that the representative of Pakistan had chosen to misuse the high-level segment of the General Assembly to distort reality.  Pakistan claimed to be the primary victim of terrorism, but it was really the victim of its own policies of training terrorists.  It was stated that Jamu and Kashmir were under foreign occupation — they were, but the occupier was Pakistan.  That State apparently regretted that the dispute remained unresolved; if that was so, it was because that country had chosen to disregard its commitments under various agreements.  It was always India that had extended the hand of friendship, and that offer remained open even today.  Reference was made to ceasefire violations along the border line; the world knew that firing weapons was used to cover terrorists crossing the border.  Pakistan was shifting its responsibility onto others.  Terrorism was a “home-grown problem that had begun to bite the hand that fed it”.  The heart of the matter was that Pakistan felt the use of terrorism was legitimate.  All States stood by to help if only Pakistan would “wake up to the reality” of what it had done to itself.

Also taking the floor in exercise of the right of reply was the representative of Armenia, who said he had felt “déjà vu” today as he heard the same allegations from the representative of Azerbaijan.  The statement delivered by that country was from a fairy tale; everything was upside down.  Azerbaijan had a problem with short memory, but the Minister himself was old enough to remember what had really happened.  Any journalists or bloggers that were willing to write the truth were imprisoned in Azerbaijan.  That State had also refused to have a meeting with the Committee of Missing Persons for the past 10 years.  “Don’t threaten us with the possibility of war,” he said, stressing the need for peaceful dialogue.  Hundreds of Azerbaijani citizens were fighting as ISIL fighters.  They did not allow international observers along the border to see who was responsible for violations of the ceasefire.  Nagorno-Karabakh would never be part of Azerbaijan.  To the representative of Turkey, he asked about the people’s right to self-determination and said that no one could determine their status without taking that principle into account.

Also exercising the right of reply, the representative of Azerbaijan said of Armenia that the country was not one to speak on human rights considering half of its population had none.  He said the United Nations and other organizations had recognized the legitimate right of Azerbaijan to its territories.  Armenia was one of the only countries in the world that venerated terrorists.  Azerbaijan had long pressed for an investigation into crimes against humanity and other violations of international law.  It would be in the best interest of Armenia’s people if its Government put an end to aggression and worked towards the prosperity of its own population and region.

Taking the floor a second time, the representative of Armenia said it was difficult to argue against words that made no sense.  He called upon the presidency of the Assembly to interrupt meetings where States were levelling baseless allegations.  He represented a country that was home to 12 national minorities who lived happily and had all the rights and privileges of all citizens.  With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Nagorno-Karabakh had been able to declare its independence.  The only international organization that had the right to mediate among the parties was the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group, which was working hard to find a resolution to the conflict.

Also taking the floor again, the representative of Azerbaijan said the second statement by Armenia was full of outright lies.  Armenia’s population could not be called “multi-ethnic”; in fact, its “monoethnicity” had been achieved through ethnic cleansing.  It would be more appropriate if the representative of Armenia did not misinterpret the peace process.  Further, it would be in the best interest of Armenia and the international community if it stopped the illegal use of force against Azerbaijan and resumed good neighbourly relations.

For information media. Not an official record.