3 October 2015
Seventieth Session, 28th Meeting (AM)

Concluding Debate, General Assembly Speakers Call on United Nations to Invoke Compassion, Dignity amid Waves of Refugees, War, Climate Threats

In addressing the world’s enormous challenges — serving waves of refugees in the Mediterranean, brokering necessary peace in the Middle East and managing the “existential” threat of climate change — speakers in the General Assembly today called on the United Nations to invoke the spirit that had underpinned its historic founding 70 years ago:  one of compassion and dignity.

Concluding the seventieth general debate, Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft (Denmark) said the meeting had gathered the highest number of Heads of State and Government that ever before to address the challenges and opportunities related to peace and security, development and human rights.  It was reassuring that, celebrating the United Nations’ seventieth anniversary, leaders had reaffirmed the spirit and principles of the Charter and confirmed their faith in the Organization’s central role in international cooperation.

Speakers echoed those sentiments throughout the day, agreeing that the world was vastly different from 1945, when the only 29 nations had ratified the Charter.  Today, with 193 members, the balance of power had shifted, some said, with the global South taking on a greater role in addressing common needs.  Peace and security were now threatened by cybercrime and terrorists’ intent on reshaping global power dynamics through acts of savagery.  The United Nations was called upon to solve problems that transcended borders everywhere.

Much of today’s debate centred on refugees fleeing violence in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere.  In meeting their needs, “I urge you, show compassion”, said Dunya Maumoon, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Maldives, recalling that the Charter’s first words — “We the Peoples” — had made clear that human life was at the heart of the United Nations.  People were fleeing barbarism carried out in the name of Islam, acts she condemned.  As such, the situation must be called what it was:  a refugee crisis, not a migrant crisis.

Taking a different view, Péter Szijjártó, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, said the situation was not a refugee crisis.  Those people were economic migrants and freedom fighters.  If Europe did not address that challenge now, it would have to face it in the future.  A series of bad international political moves had resulted in the gaining of territories by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant/Sham (ISIL/ISIS).  Rather than address consequences, the United Nations should focus on stabilizing the situation, he said, adding that he saw no major reason to celebrate the Organization’s seventieth anniversary.

“How can we not be moved by the intolerable tragedy of migration in the Mediterranean,” asked Claude Bouah-Kamon, representative of Côte d’Ivoire, calling for a human response to those fleeing poverty, misery, violence and war.  The United Nations was founded to build a better world and now it enjoyed great authority.

Yousef bin al-Alawi bin Abdulla, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Oman, called on Syrian parties and neighbouring countries to support the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria in working to restore stability and eradicate terrorism.  In addition, more efforts should be taken to alleviate Syrians’ suffering, he said.

Tied to that issue were calls for reform — of the United Nations and of an outdated mindset.  Many speakers advocated for a Security Council that reflected current geopolitical realities and whose purview extended beyond simply “guns and bombs”, with Daniele D. Bodini of San Marino stressing that reform of the Council should include the enlargement of non-permanent membership.

François Loucény Fall, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guinea, praised France and Mexico’s proposal to limit veto use in the Council, saying the time had come to make the United Nations a springboard to a truly global society.

Others had focused on the Assembly itself.  Osman Mohammed Saleh, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Eritrea, said the United Nations reflected an “undemocratic global order”.  The overwhelming majority of States was marginalized and the General Assembly, which should be the most powerful organ, was bereft of any real influence, with decision-making dominated by “a few among the few”.  He advocated for respect of sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The issue of climate change also received significant attention, with speakers describing national measures to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5°C by reducing emissions, protecting oceans and seas, and combating maritime piracy and other crimes that illegally exploited natural resources.  Francine Baron, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Caribbean Community Affairs of Dominica, said the need for help in addressing climate issues had come to the fore on 27 August, when Tropical Storm Erika had wiped out 90 per cent of its gross domestic product, costing the country $483 million.  In such situations, small islands needed urgent assistance and access to grants and financing.  She had proposed an international natural disaster risk fund for countries “on the receiving end of climate change”.

With such concerns in mind, Daniel Jean, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, said his country was working to reach a climate agreement in Paris that addressed mitigation and adaptation and included a commitment to mitigation by all major emitters.  His Government had announced a 2030 target of reducing emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels.

Also speaking today were ministers and other representatives of El Salvador, Suriname, Guatemala and Palau.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were speakers from Tonga, Iran and the Solomon Islands.


HUGO ROGER MARTÍNEZ BONILLA, Minister for Exterior Relations of El Salvador, said as the United Nations entered a new stage with enormous challenges ahead, the Organization must become more democratic, inclusive and participatory, especially the Security Council.  The historic responsibility of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development presented many challenges left over from the Millennium Development Goals, including the fight against poverty, the proliferation of conflicts and the impact of natural disasters.  The United Nations must bring about a general restructuring of its financial architecture to help Central American countries serve their debt, which had an enormous effect on their ability to put forth public investment and generate private financing in achieving the new Sustainable Development Goals.

Turning to multilateralism, he said Latin America had made a special contribution, generating significant progress in security by waging an unprecedented battle against international crime.  In its national plan for crime prevention, prosecution, rehabilitation, reinsertion and the strengthening of crime-fighting institutions, El Salvador needed the support of the United Nations due to the size of the challenge.  With regard to the global drug problem, the General Assembly’s special session on that issue, to be held in April 2016, would grant El Salvador the opportunity to revitalize the dialogue, assess achievement and gain insight on the future efforts to combatting the scourge.  The country also called on the international community to work together on the Arms Trade Treaty, which meant life or death for millions, he concluded.

YOUSEF BIN AL-ALAWI BIN ABDULLA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Oman, welcomed the agreement between China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and the United States plus Germany (P5+1) and Iran and said it constituted a model for solving controversial and complicated issues on the basis of dialogue.  The symbolic gesture of raising the flag of the State of Palestine at United Nations Headquarters was a reminder of the tragedy of the Palestinian people.  Israelis and Palestinians needed to return to the negotiating table to achieve the vision of two independent States, securing the interests of both parties, based on the Arab Peace Initiative and relevant international resolutions.  He called on the Organization and the parties sponsoring the peace process to exert efforts to resolve the crisis, rather than merely manage it.  On Yemen, he said that political forces in that country should support the efforts of the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to restore peace and condemned the targeting of diplomatic premises in Sana’a, calling on all parties to respect international law.

Noting the crisis in Syria had now entered its fifth year, he called upon all Syrian parties and neighbouring countries to support the Special Envoy there to restore security and stability and contribute to the eradication of terrorism.  He appealed for greater efforts to alleviate the humanitarian suffering of the Syrian people and emphasized the humanitarian programme of Oman to aid refugees.  He also stressed the importance of consolidating the three pillars of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and called for full implementation of the resolution of the 1995 NPT Review Conference calling for a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East.  On development, he called on the international community to make the economy, commerce and the environment priorities, particularly international energy trade and the price of oil and its by-products.  He further looked forward to a balanced international programme resulting from the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

PÉTER SZIJJÁRTÓ, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, said many States were celebrating the seventieth anniversary of the United Nations, but there were no major reasons to do so.  Europe had not faced as many challenges today as it had since the end of the Second World Wa,r nor had the world confronted as many situations since the end of the cold war.  In the last five years, 15 wars and armed conflicts had been launched and renewed.  Europe contained 12 per cent of the world’s population, and yet, it was contributing 50 per cent of social spending.  “No one had to be an economist to see this is an unsustainable situation,” he said.

Mass migration had been the most difficult challenge, but it was not a refugee crisis.  Those people were economic migrants and freedom fighters, he said, adding that an unlimited amount of people was comprising the current situation.  If Europe did not address that challenge now, it would have to face it in the future.  A series of bad international political moves had resulted in the gaining of territories by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant/Sham (ISIL/ISIS) and the United Nations had reached no significant conclusions on the matter.  That was a global challenge rather than a global response, he said, adding that Europe needed global participation.  If leaders did not change the responsibility of the Security Council to act in the Middle East and North Africa, then there would be a destabilized Europe, as well.  Instead of addressing the consequences of the conflicts, the United Nations must focus on stabilizing the situation.  In the meantime, Member States needed to put together a proposal to set quotas and ensure that Europe was able address the increase of services and the strife existing within its communities.

OSMAN MOHAMMED SALEH, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Eritrea, said that today’s world continued to be unfair and unequal, and the United Nations itself was a reflection of that “undemocratic global order”.  The overwhelming majority of Member States was marginalized, and the General Assembly, which should be the most powerful organ, was bereft of any real power and influence, with decision-making dominated by “a few among the few”.  He called for a rebuilding and revitalization of the Organization advocating for equal sovereignty of nations, respect for territorial integrity and the right of countries to choose their social and economic path of development.  There was a need to avert the environmental catastrophe that awaited humankind and threatened civilization.

Eritrea was a victim of the United Nations and the Powers that had dominated the Organization.  Six decades ago, the country had been denied its inalienable right to self-determination and independence.  It had been “savagely bombed” for three decades and had been subjected to “unfair and illegitimate sanctions, and baseless accusations”.  The United Nations and Security Council continued to countenance the illegal occupation of its sovereign territory in violation of international law and several Council resolutions, he concluded.

FRANÇOIS LOUNCÉNY FALL, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guinea, said that, despite achievements of the last 70 years, the shared prosperity “we all want” had been threatened by new obstacles to stability.  The Middle East, where the Organization’s peacekeeping efforts had begun, was again unstable.  He called on the international community to make every effort towards renewing negotiations between Israel and the State of Palestine.  As Africa resumed its growth, it was investing in defence and security capacities to maintain the stability of its States.  Those efforts strove to put an end to all flashpoints hindering democratic progress at a time when the continent was facing terrorism that was affecting all regions.  The elimination of economic and social inequality, and the participation of people and countries in inclusive development would stand as a bastion against terrorism.

Realization of the new Agenda’s goals required the mobilization of appropriate resources, particularly to provide decent employment for young people and give women the tools to thrive independently.  That would not be possible without the protection of a healthy environment, he said, hoping the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris would produce a binding agreement to assure survival of the planet and urged States to contribute to the Green Climate Fund.  The time had come to make the United Nations a springboard to a truly global society by strengthening of the General Assembly and Security Council, he said, praising France and Mexico’s proposal to limit veto power in the latter body.  Pointing to the peaceful settlement of the Iran nuclear question and advances in relations between Cuba and the United States, he said history had shown that, through dialogue, it was possible to overcome the most difficult disagreements.  The transparent national elections Guinea would hold in October would mark a new beginning towards socioeconomic development, he said, noting that successful international efforts to eradicate the Ebola epidemic had been part of a sense of increased international solidarity.

FRANCINE BARON, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Affairs of Dominica, said that, before anything else, her country would have to confront the challenges of climate change and global warming.  That concern became, once again, readily apparent when, on 27 August, Tropical Storm Erika had flooded roads, destroyed homes and wiped out 90 per cent of Dominica’s gross domestic product (GDP), costing the country $483 million.  Grateful for the “hand of friendship extended” to the country, she said more assistance would be required building new settlements that would be more resilient to climate change at a greater expense than in the past.  In such situations, small island developing States needed the urgent assistance of the international community and access to grants and financing.  “Do not reverse the gains we made in the Millennium Development Goals,” she said, proposing an international natural disaster risk fund for countries “on the receiving end of climate change”.

As Member States moved towards the Climate Conference, Dominica expected them to not only heed the warnings of the scientific community, but also to hear the plea of those affected most by the problem.  The small island developing States were equally concerned about preserving resources, as reflected in Sustainable Development Goal 14.  To that end, they had joined in launching Blue Guardians, a partnership between the Governments of small island developing States and a consortium of public and private organizations, to support marine conservation and clean energy.

DUNYA MAUMOON, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Maldives, said the Charter’s first words, “We the Peoples”, had made it clear that human life was at the heart of the United Nations.  Seventy years later, she questioned whether that goal had been well served.  Generations had been saved from of inter-State war, yet inter-State conflict persisted.  Faith in human rights had been enshrined in principle, yet equal rights within nations large and small had been ignored.  More children were in school, yet the gap between the rich and poor had widened amid ignorance and intolerance.  “If we want it to inspire courage in face of adversity, to protect the rights of nations regardless of size, the United Nations must be reformed,” she stressed, questioning why key issues must be confined to specific bodies, as solutions did not fit neatly into separate compartments.  She urged redefining security to include climate change, a security threat which had damaged her country’s economy, depriving it of its right to land and way of life.  Maldives had reduced emissions and was working towards a legally binding climate agreement.  “If we the smallest can act, why can’t the biggest?”, she asked, underlining that maritime piracy and other criminal acts persisted.

When the United Nations was founded, swarms of refugees had crossed borders and seas, seeking to save their lives.  Yet, fear had not overtaken humanity.  Today, people again had been seeking safety from war, she said, adding that “I urge you, show compassion”, and to call the situation what it was — a refugee crisis.  People were fleeing violence carried out in the name of Islam.  Condemning such acts, carried out by groups that fed Islamophobia, she said the international community must not let those groups redefine peace, tolerance and compassion.  She urged that Palestine become a full United Nations member and for the establishment of the State of Palestine within the 1967 borders.  The international architecture, including the United Nations, was not designed to accommodate the unique features of small islands and that must change.  Small States were ready to be part of solutions, especially through partnerships.  “Alone we might be weak, but together, we can move mountains,” she said.

NIERMALA S. BADRISING, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Suriname, welcomed the Organization’s commitment to sustainable development.  Combating climate change was especially high on Suriname’s agenda, she said, noting that, although it was the smallest South American country, it housed 8 per cent of the world’s untouched tropical forest.  Adding that approximately 94 per cent of the nation was covered by rainforest, making it the “greenest” country on Earth, she said its rivers carried between 10 and 15 per cent of the global fresh water supply.  Home to some 239 miles of low-lying coastline, Suriname continued to bear the burden of the effects of climate change and was one of the seven most vulnerable countries with respect to the effects of rising sea levels.  To address that, it looked forward to a new global agreement at Climate Conference in Paris in December.  In that vein, priority must be given to the availability of financial resources, particularly to small island developing States and countries with low-lying coastlines.

Turning to other issues, she welcomed the normalization of bilateral relations between Cuba and the United States, underscored the importance of upholding the Universal Declaration on Human Rights as a “cornerstone document”, especially with regard to the current refugee crisis, and welcomed the political participation of women at all levels of local, national and international government.  Lastly, she said, while the United Nations had inspired positive progress over the last seven decades, economic and social inequality remained alarming.  Human-centred economic policies would address that and would ensure the realization of social development for all peoples, she said in closing.

DANIEL JEAN, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Canada, said his country had helped to draft the Charter, creating the Organization before, during and after the 1945 San Francisco conference.  In its early years, as today, the United Nations had shown the path ahead in the area of international development.  Canada supported the 2030 Agenda and the goal of eliminating global poverty, which would require new approaches and partnerships.  Fundamental freedoms, the rule of law and accountable governance must be promoted.  Canada had prioritized maternal, new-born and child health, having committed $3.5 billion for the next five years.  While official development assistance (ODA) would play an important role in financing the Sustainable Development Goals, new ways must be found to blend financing from donors, foundations and the private sector.  He urged countries to increase their efforts to protect civilians, saying that Canada had always sought to act with generosity, speed and efficiency to save life and mitigate suffering.  Last year, Canada had increased its financial contribution to meet such needs in Iraq, Philippines, Syria, Ukraine and elsewhere.  It had the capacity to address the refugee and migrant crisis in Europe, and had sped the reintegration of Syrians and Iraqis into the country in 2015.

Canada was part of the international coalition to combat ISIL and had supported ethnic and religious minorities whose existence had been threatened.  On climate change, he said Canada working to reach an effective agreement in Paris, which must address mitigation and adaptation, and include a commitment by all major emitters.  Canada had announced a 2030 target to reduce by 30 per cent greenhouse gas emissions to below 2005 levels, reflecting its national circumstances, including as world leader in clean energy generation.  It would continue to support international climate change financing, having pledged $300 million to the Green Climate Fund.  As one of the largest financial contributors to the United Nations, Canada expected the Organization to be accountable for its expenditures.

DANIELE D. BODINI (San Marino) said that, after 70 years, the United Nations had passed the test of time and continued to represent for all countries a “shining beacon of hope”.  With the help of the United Nations system, Member States had built foundations for peace by preventing and ending numerous disputes.  Despite its successes, the international community continued to face the challenges of war, poverty, inequality and discrimination along with new challenges such as climate change, economic crises, food insecurity, international migration and terrorism.  The world looked to the United Nations for leadership in addressing those issues.  Hence, it was fundamental to reform the Organization to make it more effective, while preserving its integrity and enhancing its status.  That needed to remain at the core of the world’s collective efforts during the seventieth session of the General Assembly.

San Marino was pleased with the recently held high-level meeting on migration.  Turning to the situation in Iraq and Syria, where ongoing inhuman ethnic and religious cleansing was being carried out with “unprecedented ferocity”, his country hoped that under the able stewardship of the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, a diplomatic solution could be achieved in the not-too-distant future.  San Marino advocated for the reform of the Security Council to include the enlargement of non-permanent members and a more balanced geographical distribution.  His country welcomed the new Sustainable Development Agenda and commended the fact that the General Assembly and Economic and Social Council would assess the implementation of progress, adding that it was critical to produce a comprehensive and effective mechanism for review and accountability.

CARLOS RAÚL MORALES, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, pointed to the “plurality and massive nature” of the citizen movement that had taken place in his country earlier in 2015.  “There was not one single act of violence,” he said, recalling the 22 weeks of protests that had led to the resignation of the country’s Vice-President and eventually the President and other affluent public and business officials.  That action was followed by the appointment of a new President in September.  Many serious challenges had arisen during that transition, however, there was no change to the constitutional order and the system of justice had worked, the media and social media worked, and participatory democracy had shown its strength.  All of that was spearheaded by citizen participation, the highest since Guatemala’s return to democracy some 13 years ago.  Guatemala must now lead its future and build a system based simply on rule of law.  The “invisible Guatemala made up of indigenous and peasant people” had taken to the streets and called for a thorough overhaul and for the development of national solidarity.

“We must also avoid the exodus of citizens that look for a better life abroad,” he continued, touching on the region’s migration challenge.  Currently, some 2 million Guatemalans lived abroad, mostly in the United States.  That “phenomenon has gone on for too long” and had gotten worse, with boys and girls now risking their lives.  The country must do its best to ensure that those children stayed home where they had an opportunity for a better life.  The goal was to “reach the deepest roots of migration” and ensure security, economic opportunity and protection systems for Guatemala’s most vulnerable.  While the comprehensive migration reform in the United States was “a matter of respect for the principles of humanity and human rights”, addressing the issue was a shared responsibility of countries of origin and transit States.  Natural disasters drove migration, too, with recent drought and landslides, for example, affecting the food security of more than 120,000 families in Guatemala leaving more than 600,000 people food “insecure”.  On foreign policy, he welcomed progress on resolving a land and maritime dispute with Belize, economic partnership with Mexico and the establishment, with Honduras, of the region’s first customs union.3

CALEB OTTO (Palau) said that while the challenges of violence and war, poverty and diseases alongside rising sea levels, wildfires and droughts caused by climate change were enormous, so was the resolve for the effective implementation of the new Sustainable Development Agenda.  Unfortunately, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda had failed to bridge the gap between grand speech-making and practical financial commitments, he said, adding that a more ambitious global partnership was needed.  To date, rich nations had fallen far short of the commitment to transfer 0.7 per cent of gross national income to ODA.

In addition, equitable access to technology was critical to sustainable development and would be the bedrock for aggressive action on climate change.  The implementation of the new Agenda required significantly greater means and mechanisms than recommended in Addis Ababa, he said.  Stressing the importance of partnerships, he thanked those that had set aside 10 per cent of the oceans as marine protected areas.  Expressing support for the expansion and reform of the Security Council, he also supported permanent membership for Japan.  “We urge the UN system to involve Taiwan in the process of implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” he said.  He also noted Palau’s commitment to lower carbon emissions by 50 per cent by 2050 compared with 2005 levels.

CLAUDE STANISLAS BOUAH-KAMON (Côte d’Ivoire) asked the General Assembly “how can we not be moved by the intolerable tragedy of migration in the Mediterranean”.  Urging nations to find a human response for those “fleeing poverty, misery, violence and wars”, he reminded country representatives that the United Nations was founded to build a better world.  The United Nations had enjoyed great authority in humankind’s role over the past 70 years, which have been characterized by striving for democracy and human rights.  But, peace and security remained threatened, especially with the recent surge of transnational crime, rogue groups and cybercrime.  Poverty remained an obstacle to development and the well-being of people everywhere.

The new Agenda must promote measures of good governance and restore true partnerships.  Food insecurity and climate insecurity were common threats and the world must confront the myriad challenges by taking action.  That meant “finishing the job” at the Climate Conference in Paris by achieving a universally binding commitment to fight climate change.  Policies and reforms must be undertaken at the national level, he said, adding that, for its part, Côte d’Ivoire had committed to achieve a 50 per cent reduction in poverty.  The economy was booming for the second year in a row as the country had remained among the top 10 to improve its business environment and joined the “head of the class” of growing nations around the world.  Measures were also being undertaken in ensuring universal education and health care.  With elections approaching, he welcomed logistical support.  Meanwhile, the Government had taken steps in other areas, such as the National Commission for Reconciliation and Compensation of Victims initiative to ensure victims were being compensated, he concluded.

Closing Remarks

MOGENS LYKKETOFT (Denmark), President of the General Assembly, said the general debate had gathered the highest number of Heads of State and Government than ever before to discuss challenges and opportunities relating to global peace, security, development and human rights.  While celebrating the Organization’s seventieth anniversary, those leaders had reaffirmed the spirit and principles of the Charter and confirmed their faith in the central role of the United Nations in international cooperation.  It was also fitting that the general debate had been preceded by a meeting with Pope Francis and by the Sustainable Development Summit, where Member States had adopted the 2030 Agenda, “a truly seminal commitment by our community of nations”.  With the Summit focussing on sustainable development, the debate’s focus was on “the road ahead for peace and security and human rights”.

Recapping some of the major concerns raised, he said speakers had repeatedly stressed the need for a global response, rooted in international law and solidarity, to the crisis of refugees, displaced persons and migrants across the world.  With that in mind, he said that he would, when attending the World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund (IMF) annual meeting of finance ministers in Peru on 9 October, highlight financing needs for implementing the new Sustainable Development Goals and for responding to the ongoing humanitarian crisis.  Speakers had also highlighted the need for peaceful political solutions in Syria and in other parts of the Middle East, he said.

“The radical actions of ISIL, Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab and other extremist groups were unanimously denounced and rejected as an affront to our common humanity,” he said, noting that many delegates had recalled the importance of prevention as a key to preserving peace and stability and the need to address the root causes of conflict.  The growing role of regional and subregional organizations in safeguarding peace and security had also been highlighted, with many Member States addressing disarmament challenges, ranging from small arms and light weapons to nuclear non-proliferation.  In that regard, speakers widely recognized as a significant diplomatic achievement the agreement on the Iran nuclear programme and welcomed the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba.

Delegations had agreed on the pressing need to reach agreement at the Climate Conference in Paris.  Since the Summit had begun last week, 70 countries had submitted their intended national determined contributions, bringing the total number to 146.  Universal implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals was imperative, including the need for financing, technology and fighting corruption, he said.  On human rights, he noted remarks made on discrimination against different groups and the need for further progress in realizing the rights of women and girls.  Numerous interventions had stressed a pressing need for reform of the Security Council so that it would reflect today’s geopolitical realities, he said.

Right of Reply

Exercising the right of reply, Indonesia’s representative responded to statements that had been made by delegates from Tonga and the Solomon Islands, rejecting references to the “so-called human rights issue in West Papua” as “dangerously misleading”.  No country, big or small, developed or least developed, was free from human rights problems, she said.  Indonesia was no exception.  However, as a mature nation and the fourth largest democracy in the world, her country had a robust national human rights protection system and continued to strengthen its related institutions and legislation.  The Government also worked with civil society and human rights institutions, which provided the necessary checks and independent reviews to ensure that human rights were properly monitored and protected.  She said the references that had been made contained inaccurate allegations and indicated political motivation beyond human rights concerns.  The provinces of Papua and West Papua enjoyed wide-ranging autonomy, guaranteed by national laws, including in the election of governors and other heads of regional Governments.  The Government was committed to continuing engagement, in good faith, with Pacific island countries, with which some of its people had strong commonalities, for peace and prosperity in the region.

Exercising the right of reply, Tonga’s delegate said, in response to the statement made by Indonesia’s representative, that his country had received reports of and was concerned about alleged human rights violations.  Tonga would like to engage in friendly dialogue with Indonesia to gain a better understanding of violations and perhaps establish a fact-finding mission to determine the situation on the ground.  He reiterated his nation’s high regard for Indonesia and the two nations’ mutual diplomatic relations, but stated, for the record, concerns and a desire to hold more dialogues.

Also exercising the right of reply, Iran’s speaker said Bahrain’s representative had repeated and fabricated allegations that Iran was meddling in that country’s domestic relations.  Those fabrications only amounted to desperate efforts to cover Bahrain’s rule of its minorities and its trampling of the majority’s meaningful participation in running the country.  She said that remarks made by the delegate of the United Arab Emirates about the Hajj tragedy had also been unwarranted and unhelpful, as that issue was “none of their business”.  In addition, comments made over the disputed body of water situated in the Arabian Peninsula had been politically motivated, she said, adding that geographical disputes had only caused tension and that Iran had always pursued a “policy of friendship” with its neighbours and was ready to engage in bilateral talks with the United Arab Emirates to remove any misunderstandings between the two counties.  She also rejected the speaker from Canada’s distortion of facts and his delegation’s “policy of Iranophobia”.  Canada had a very questionable human rights record with indigenous people and in supporting Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people, she said.

Exercising the right of reply, the representative of the Solomon Islands noted that the Charter was based on three pillars:  peace and security, human rights and development.  All States had a legal responsibility to uphold human rights and to take measures against human rights violations.  The Solomon Islands would like to work with Indonesia on violations in Papua and West Papua.  Indeed, his country was also ready to work with Indonesia and with everyone in the multilateral system through the Human Rights Council.  He welcomed Indonesia’s willingness to work not only with the Solomon Islands, but with everyone on human rights issues everywhere.

For information media. Not an official record.