22 September 2017
Seventy-second Session, 15th to 18th Meetings (AM, PM & Night)

Speakers Consider Value of Interdependence, Multilateralism, Joint Action in Tackling Global Challenges, on Fourth Day of Annual General Debate

The interdependence of States and the benefits of joint action must be recognized and reaffirmed, the General Assembly heard today, as speakers debated the value of multilateralism in addressing pressing global challenges, ranging from inequality to climate change.

Never in history had moving away from diplomacy led to progress in the promotion of universal values, said Prime Minister Charles Michel of Belgium, declaring that doing so would be an act of “cowardly abandon”.  On the fourth day of the Assembly’s annual general debate, he described multilateralism as a robust and reliable driving force for creating a better world, emphasizing the necessity of coordination and consensus.  Globalization had generated doubts and fears, yet multilateralism was not to blame, he said, emphasizing that although multilateralism was complicated and could create difficulties, international and regional organizations and action must be strengthened.

Reinforcing that sentiment, Margot Wallström, Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs stressed:  “This is the moment for multilateralism, not unilateralism”, warning that unless countries grasped that chance, they would “face the consequences”.  Today, “going it alone” was not an option, she said, adding that Member States had the responsibility to act coherently and flexibly.

Prime Minister Edi Rama of Albania said protectionist approaches were challenging the existing international global order without proposing anything credible to replace it.  However, no country, however big, rich or powerful, could face or solve problems alone, he cautioned.  In that context, one of the pillars of Albania’s foreign policy was the development of regional cooperation and the transformation of the Western Balkans into an area of free movement for people, goods, capital and ideas, he said.

In a similar vein, Prime Minister Allen Michael Chastanet of Saint Lucia said multilateral discussions were needed to address inequality and other issues.  If States indulged their differences, inequity would persist as the driving force in the international system and people would struggle to survive, he cautioned, emphasizing that the global reality increasingly called for integrating economies, the environment and people.

Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson, Iceland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, said his country had risen to become one of the wealthiest countries in Europe, describing its “rags to riches” path as a textbook example of the power of free trade.  He urged the international community to open its markets and allow poor countries to trade freely with all consumers.  Free trade also meant forming international relationships and promoting interaction among all peoples, regardless of colour or religion.  Since the markets of the world’s richest countries remained closed to the poorest, it was incumbent upon the international community to support developing nations, he emphasized.

Samura M. W. Kamara, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sierra Leone, speaking on behalf of President Ernest Bai Koroma, stressed the need to strengthen the role of mediation in the settlement of disputes, highlighting the gains realized through preventive diplomacy.  Mediation remained a powerful tool for preventing and settling armed conflicts and must be fully utilized.  Mediation efforts had proven very fruitful for Sierra Leone in terms of timely cessation of hostilities, credible ceasefire agreements and the deployment of peacekeeping missions, he said.

Throughout the day, speakers also highlighted the devastating havoc that climate change was wreaking on their countries and the need for a coordinated, multilateral response to that phenomenon.  Cautioning that industrialized countries would not enjoy prosperity if climate change continued unabated, Bruno Eduardo Rodríguez Parrilla, Cuba’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, expressed regret that the United States had withdrawn from the Paris Agreement.

Deputy Prime Minister Louis Straker of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines described the death and destruction wrought by the 2017 hurricane season as the very manifestation of climate change.  It was a “bare-faced insult to the intelligence and experience of the peoples of island States and coastal areas to call climate change a hoax,” he said.  Small island developing States were the most vulnerable to climate change, yet they contributed least to the emissions that caused it, he pointed out, demanding that the biggest emitters do the most to mitigate its effects and assist others.  The global community had come together to craft the Paris Agreement and any attempt to disavow its commitments was an “act of hostility”.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare of the Solomon Islands described the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s testing of ballistic missiles over the Pacific Ocean as an insult to the region’s people, pointing out that “the sea is our sanctuary”, as well as their source of food and income.  The effects of climate change were a “clear and present danger”, with ocean acidification exceeding safe levels.  “We are in survival mode,” he said, stressing that the horrors caused by climate change were just as cruel as those of a nuclear attack.

President Taneti Maamau of Kiribati said that although the international community was focused on the recent natural disasters in the Caribbean, Mexico and the United States, his country, as well as other small island developing States, suffered the onset of climate disaster every day.  “This may not capture the attention of the global community due to its slow impact and limited media attention, but it is causing pain and suffering in our communities,” he emphasized.  Calling for simplified and streamlined international processes that would enable the participation of such nations, he said that they needed easier access to the Green Climate Fund.

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay of Bhutan said the struggle against climate change was complex and expensive, stressing that his country was particularly vulnerable because it was landlocked and mountainous.  Having experienced flash floods and glacial lake outbursts as well as severe and erratic weather patterns, Bhutan had ratified the Paris Agreement and would soon fulfil its pledges.  In that context, it was crucial to introduce climate-financing mechanisms that would help all countries, especially smaller ones challenged to secure funds.

Also speaking today were Heads of State and Government of Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of Moldova, Malta, Cabo Verde, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Ethiopia, Andorra, Somalia, Tonga and Lesotho.

Ministers from Viet Nam, Tunisia, Thailand, Australia, Hungary, Algeria, Kenya, Cambodia, Belize, San Marino, Liechtenstein, Greece, Barbados, United Arab Emirates, Mongolia, Benin, Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia and Sierra Leone also participated.

The representatives of Serbia, Qatar, Albania, United Arab Emirates and Egypt spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 9 a.m. on Saturday, 23 September, to continue its general debate.


PAUL BIYA, President of Cameroon, said peace was a prerequisite for sustainable development, yet it was under threat from terrorism, conflict, poverty and climate change.  No country had been spared by the scourge of terrorism.  Frequent attacks in places such as Barcelona, Ouagadougou, Baghdad and Paris had unfortunately made terrorism part and parcel of daily life.  Cameroon and its neighbouring countries had borne the brunt of terrorist group Boko Haram’s constantly changing methods and tactics.

“It is killing our people, our communities, our independence and our democracy,” he explained.  “It spells the end of peace.”  Cameroon therefore looked forward to the arrival of a United Nations high-level mission to the Lake Chad region.  He went on to condemn conflicts in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East which had wreaked pain and hardship and led to an outpouring of refugees and displaced persons.  Cameroon would continue to host refugees from the Central African Republic and Nigeria as it “understands how much they feel hurt, victimized and threatened”.

He said the numerous declarations and resolutions on development adopted by the United Nations had not been fully effective in reducing poverty.  “The result is clear:  poverty persists and the gap between rich and poor countries is ever widening,” he said.  “The situation has been exacerbated by the decline in commodity prices.”  There was a need for countries to work in solidarity to reduce poverty and help people lead a decent life.

Damage to the environment was also a serious threat.  He said Africa faced two major environmental challenges:  forest degradation in Central Africa and the desertification affecting Lake Chad, which had lost already 90 per cent of its surface.  Those issues could be better heard with greater representation of Africa on the Security Council, he said.  “Is it not high time we restructured the United Nations to give more weight to Africa’s voice within a revitalized General Assembly and a Security Council that is more receptive and equitable to us?” he asked.

TANETI MAAMAU, President of Kiribati, said the Assembly’s theme was central to ensuring that human lives and dignity prevailed “over the value of a dollar”.  “As leaders of our sovereign nations, we are responsible to our people who are at the heart of the sustainable development agenda,” he stressed.  As the international community addressed the loss of lives and devastation in the Caribbean, Mexico and the United States due to the onslaught of hurricanes and earthquakes — and typhoons and monsoons in Asia — he urged it not to forget the plights of countries such as Kiribati.  The country, along with other small island developing States including Tuvalu, Marshall Islands and Maldives, suffered daily from the onset of climate disaster.  “This may not capture the attention of the global community due to its slow impact and limited media attention, but it is causing pain and suffering in our communities,” he said.

Calling for simplified and streamlined international processes that enabled the participation of such nations, he said easier access to the Green Climate Fund was also needed.  Kiribati had embarked on an ambitious “20‑year Vision” strategy towards a wealthy, healthy and secure nation based on accelerated growth and strategic investment in human, natural and cultural capital.  That plan aimed to empower people at the household and community levels, he said, also outlining national policies to ensure good governance and transparency.

Noting that the United Nations could not speak about a focus on people if its own family remained incomplete, he said its pledges of consolidation and concerted action continued to ignore the 23 million people in Taiwan, depriving them of the right to participate in its work.  Calling for reforms that would see Taiwan included in the global community and its drive to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, he went on to note that unsustainable production and consumption patterns “will push our planet’s life support system to the brink of collapse”, and urged collective action to reverse them.  Efforts were also needed to conserve the ocean.  He welcomed the inclusion on the Assembly’s agenda of action to formulate a legally binding instrument for the management and sustainable use of biological marine diversity areas beyond national jurisdiction, noting that a single management failure in those important areas could have devastating consequences on fisheries and the ocean itself.

For its part, he said, Kiribati had declared 11 per cent of its exclusive economic zone as a marine protected area, a non-commercial zone and a world heritage entity under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), with the aim to foster a restocking of its fisheries.  “If a small, resource-constrained nation like mine is willing to make a profound sacrifice […] this global family has a far greater capacity to do more” to ensure that future generations could build a decent life in a sustainable environment.  Calling for support to help countries mitigate and alleviate the effects of climate change, he announced his Government’s decision to leverage its sovereign wealth fund as collateral for concessional debt financing.  That non-traditional move demonstrated Kiribati’s willingness to drive its own aspirations rather than wait for financial assistance “that may come at a moment far too late,” he said.

Cautioning against diverting the United Nations focus away from people to countries’ individual quests for power, dominance and greed, he said compassion could transform global challenges by focusing on the most vulnerable members of societies.  “We come to this gathering to listen and converse,” he said, adding:  “Let us do so with greater compassion, understanding, love, respect and kindness.”  It was never too late to begin.

FAUSTIN ARCHANGE TOUADERA, President of the Central African Republic, outlining global challenges, called for redoubled efforts to end terrorism.  Northern Africa had been shaken by the many victims of migration who had been abandoned in the desert or lost their lives at sea.  The planet suffered the impacts of earthquakes, floods, drought, desertification and global warming, he said, stressing that commitments made under the Paris Agreement on climate change must be honoured.  On reform of the United Nations, there was a need to widen the Security Council in favour of Africa.  Human rights, rule of law and good governance were basic preconditions necessary for overall well-being.

On peace and security, he said the Government had mobilized all its energy to consolidate the process leading to a cessation of hostilities throughout the country, a laborious effort.  Noting that 14 armed groups were now participating in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration efforts, he said all such groups had an opportunity to recommit to the country’s common values and constitutional principles.  He deplored that some armed groups had failed to immediately cease hostility, and welcomed the commitment of both neighbouring countries and regional organizations in the search for peace.

The work of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration monitoring advisory committee was already under way, he said, adding that the Central African Republic was working to rebuild its national army.  On the human rights front, the country was improving training for prison wardens, as well as strengthening judicial and penitentiary infrastructure.  He also cited the agreement signed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in June, aimed at improving how the country manged its public finances.  The Central African Republic had streamlined its tax apparatus and sought to ensure a transparent budget process.

Indeed, the Central African Republic was moving along the path of good financial governance, he said, recalling nonetheless that the long crisis had had a disastrous effect on production and had increased poverty.  Rebuilding the Central African Republic would remain elusive if production continued to be random and beyond Government control, especially its vast natural resources, which must be brought entirely under its command.  The humanitarian situation had worsened in many parts of the country, with more than 2.4 million people requiring emergency aid and 600,000 internally displaced persons that needed help in returning home.  Another 500,000 people were refugees in neighbouring countries, awaiting return.

He outlined his hope that steps would be taken in 2017 to establish dialogue with the armed groups, noting that other major efforts would focus on implementing the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme.  He would also seek greater dialogue with regional actors in hopes they would provide political support for the road map for peace and national reconciliation.  The staffing of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) was not sufficient to protect all civilians, he said, requesting that provisions be made in that regard, and that its mandate be strengthened to help the country regain control over its natural resources.

PAVEL FILIP, Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova, reiterated support for the Secretary-General’s reform agenda, noting that his Government, after signing the June 2014 Association Agreement with the European Union, had engaged in structural reforms to build a modern society based on the European development model.  Efforts sought to consolidate the rule of law and create a market economy, as well as modernize infrastructure, manage resources efficiently, promote a green economy, update agriculture technology and reform public administration.  While the Republic of Moldova had the political will to implement those reforms, and it would continue to rely on support from its development partners, he said.

The lack of progress on ending conflicts should prompt more direct involvement from the United Nations, he said, irrespective of a situation’s inclusion on the Security Council agenda.  He welcomed the Assembly’s agenda item of “protracted conflicts in the GUAM [Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and the Republic of Moldova] area and their implications for international peace, security and development”, as proactive monitoring could prevent or counter attempts to change the political boarders of the GUAM States.  He expressed deep concern over the armed conflict in Ukraine, reiterating full support for that country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

He recalled that since 1992, the Republic of Moldova had informed the Assembly about the unresolved conflict in his country’s east, where “illegal” foreign military forces were stationed.  If all parties displayed the political will, the conflict could be resolved, however it persisted, despite 25 years of international efforts.  The Republic of Moldova would seek a solution regarding its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and provide special status for the Transnistria region, as stipulated in Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) documents.  The settlement process could be underpinned by transforming the trilateral peacekeeping force into a multinational civilian mission with an international mandate.  To that end, the trilateral disengagement force, established by the Moldovan-Russian ceasefire agreement of 21 July 1992, had fulfilled its scope.

“This obsolete mechanism has turned into a factor of conflict preservation and has failed to ensure the full demilitarization of the security zone and to eliminate the obstacles to the free movement of people, goods and services,” he said.  The Russian Federation had not withdrawn its military forces from the Republic of Moldova, despite numerous international commitments and agreements.  Military forces conducted regular exercises in the Transnistria region with participation of paramilitary forces from the separatist regime in Tiraspol, posing a constant security threat to the Republic of Moldova.  The military drills were a flagrant violation of the 1992 ceasefire agreement.

He said OSCE reports indicated that the Operative Group of Russian Troops had more than 21,000 metric tons of weapons and ammunition, he said, which the Republic of Moldova did not control or supervise.  The lack of access to those stockpiles had prevented an assessment of the technical conditions, and monitoring of transfers within the territory and abroad.  As a result, the Republic of Moldova had been unable to fulfil its obligations under international disarmament conventions.  He firmly reiterated the request for the “complete and unconditional withdrawal” of the Operative Group “illegally” stationed in the Republic of Moldova.  Invoking the 21 July declaration by the Republic of Moldova’s Parliament, which called on the Russian Federation to resume and finalize troop and munitions withdrawal, he similarly requested the Assembly to include the item titled, “the withdrawal of foreign military forces from the territory of the Republic of Moldova” on its agenda, and called on all States to support that “legitimate” request.

CHARLES MICHEL, Prime Minister of Belgium, said that, when it came to climate change, it was not possible to wait until tomorrow to do what must be done today, stressing that protecting the environment for future generations would require collective action.  He expressed concern that elections were being manipulated and justice undermined, transparency was in short supply and corruption was wide-spread.  Sovereignty could not be a shield, he said, nor could it be an excuse for attempts to commit atrocities.  His country did not intend to lecture on morals, but rather, convince others through a constant dialogue, whereby universal values for every human being were defended.  Never in history had moving away from diplomacy led to progress in the promotion of universal values.  Rather, doing so was an act of “cowardly abandon”.

No continent had been spared the threat of terrorism, whose “dark objective” was to feed the poison of division, he said.  On the proliferation of nuclear weapons, lasting and mutually beneficial solutions were always political and diplomatic; much more so than military.  The nuclear deal with Iran must be preserved and implemented, as it was a channel for dialogue to reduce tensions.  Rejecting that agreement was not wise, or desirable.  The situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was another example which illustrated that without dialogue, the outcome could compromise peace and security.  Efforts must build the threads for dialogue by invoking a sense of responsibility from China and the Russian Federation.

Expressing support for free trade, he called for an open economy, featuring a free flow of goods and knowledge.  Free enterprise must be turned towards the production of goods and services, job creation and the strengthening of the middle class.  Throughout history, investment and trade had brought people closer together, a spirit which was at the heart of the European project that had begun some 60 years ago.  Openness to the world, with rules, was the most solid reaction to isolationism and protection.

On migration, he said Belgium was a host to those asking for asylum after fleeing war and persecution.  It was also fighting lawless traffickers who put women and children into boats, sending them on dangerous and often tragic journeys.  He called for greater investments in least developed countries, adding that Belgium was firmly committed to completing a Global Pact on Migration in 2018.

Multilateralism was a robust and reliable driving force for creating a better world, he said.  Coordination and consensus were necessary.  Globalization had brought about doubts and fears, but at the same time, multilateralism was not to blame.  The interdependence of States and the benefits of joint action must be recognized and reaffirmed.  Multilateralism was a complicated matter, which sometimes created difficulties and frustrations; while the successes of multilateralism were not always heralded.  Nevertheless, international and regional organizations and action must be strengthened.

TSHERING TOBGAY, Prime Minister of Bhutan, said experts were increasingly convinced that natural disasters like hurricanes and floods were worsened by climate change.  The world must take urgent action to ensure the survival of future generations.

Bhutan, a landlocked and mountainous country, was particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.  Having experienced flash floods, glacial lake outbursts and severe and erratic weather patterns, it had ratified the Paris Agreement and was on its way to fulfilling its pledges.  Bhutan was a carbon-negative country, as 72 per cent of its territory was under forest cover and more than half of it was protected as natural parks, wild life sanctuaries and natural reserves.  The country also generated and exported clean renewable energy and invested in both green industries and organic farming.

However, fighting climate change was complex and expensive, he stressed.  It was crucial that climate financing mechanisms were introduced so that all countries, especially smaller ones challenged to secure funds, received help.  He applauded the creation of the Global Environmental Facility and Green Climate Fund.  However, there was a need to expand both those instruments so that more countries could better address climate change.  “While the threat of natural disasters will always remain, we can ensure that they are not directly linked to human-induced activity,” he said.

Poverty was another challenge that required funding, he said, stressing that it had no place in an age characterized by unprecedented wealth, knowledge and technology.  “Millions are condemned to a life of poverty.”  However, one estimate had found that it would take $175 billion per year — only 0.32 per cent of the current global gross domestic product (GDP) — to end extreme poverty.  Reforms initiated by the Secretary-General would allow the United Nations to bring about shared prosperity.  He cited Bhutan’s progress in reducing multidimensional poverty, stressing that it was on track to lowering to 5 per cent within the next few years.

On the issue of terrorism, he welcomed reforms aimed at helping the United Nations better fight that scourge, adding that they must include better representation of countries such as India, Brazil and Japan, as well as African nations, in the Security Council.  However, maintaining global peace and security ultimately was the responsibility of each country.  “Every country must protect the rights of its citizens, strengthen participatory Government, and enable economic opportunity for all,” he emphasized.

EDI RAMA, Prime Minister of Albania, said that global terrorism and extreme radicalization had become a persistent threat with the ability to strike everywhere.  Several brutal conflicts continued to devastate the lives of millions of people and threaten the future of entire generations.  Armed conflicts were greater in complexity, and weapons and tactics used had become more sophisticated.  The consequences were greater, too, with millions uprooted from their homes.  Climate change, a defiant truth that some still dared to question, was putting survival at risk.  It was one of the most fundamental challenges of the twenty‑first century, and continued to cause humanitarian distress.

The international global order had been seriously challenged without anything credible to replace it, he said.  The situation in South-East Asia, a prolonged and recently exacerbated crisis sparked by policy of “a stubborn totalitarian and paranoid regime”, had brought back the fear of nuclear confrontation.  Inequality had continued to rise while the world became wealthier.  No country, however big, rich or powerful, could face or solve these problems alone.  Such challenges required a unified vision and a concerted reaction, he said, and reiterated Albania’s pledge to do its part.  Albania was among the first countries to join the global coalition in the fight against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and international terrorism.

Albania, he continued, was fully committed to protecting and promoting all human rights, in particular women’s rights.  For the first time in the country’s history, half of the members of its Government were women.  The empowerment of women served as a powerful drive for overall economic development and national prosperity.

One of Albania’s main priorities was to join the European Union, he said.  It was resolved to deliver on the fundamentals that would consolidate the pillars of a democratic State, functioning economy and a Government that worked for its citizens.  He expected European Union partners to do their part in turn and clear the way towards opening accession talks.  He hoped that the European Union would continue to believe that the enlargement process remained the best European catalyst for peace, security, development and prosperity.

One of the pillars of Albania’s foreign policy was the development of regional cooperation and the transformation of the Western Balkans into an area of free movement of people, goods, capital and ideas, he said.  The best proof of the profound change in the Western Balkans could be found in its joint efforts with a shared sense of responsibility and common purpose to make the region a natural part of Europe.  To have a fully functioning region, all members needed to be treated the same way.  That was why the admission of Kosovo at every regional body with equal rights was of paramount significance, he stressed.

JOSEPH MUSCAT, Prime Minister of Malta, said that as President of the Council of the European Union his country had worked with the bloc’s member States towards a new European Consensus on Development with a focus on poverty eradication.  Malta was also Chair‑in‑Office of the Commonwealth, an organization representing 52 “different realities” that had joined together to launch common initiatives to expedite implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, and on a national level, it had registered a voluntary commitment of 30 per cent of all the waters under its jurisdiction as Marine Protected Areas.  Recalling that Malta had been instrumental in triggering the negotiations that had led to the adoption of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, he said it now supported efforts to establish a legally binding instrument under that Convention for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.

Noting that Malta would host the next “Our Ocean” Conference in October, he voiced further support for the establishment of an Intergovernmental Panel on Ocean Governance, which would report to the Assembly through the Secretary‑General.  The Commonwealth was also developing a “Blue Charter” to help its countries fulfil the requirements under Sustainable Development Goal 14, he said, expressing strong support for the entry into force of the Paris Agreement on climate change.  Malta based its policies on the overarching principles of social mobility, social justice, equality and unity.  Today, fewer of its people were at risk of poverty due to Government efforts to fairly distribute the proceeds of its sustained growth, he said, emphasizing that a prosperous future must be accompanied by an inclusive society.  “People who live in fear or are oppressed or discriminated against cannot realize their potential and are not at peace.”

For those reasons, he said, Malta had put human rights, equality and empowerment at the forefront of its political agenda, and it had made them priority issues of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and questioning rights and gender equality.  Malta had redefined marriage to grant full equality to all partners in a fair, gender-neutral manner, and had amended its Constitution to protect against discrimination based on “sexual orientation” and “gender identity”.  “These individual choices should be as significant as the colour of one’s eyes,” he said.  Malta was the only European country to provide free and universal childcare to all working people and had worked to increase youth participation by lowering the voting age in general and European elections from 18 to 16, after already having done so in local elections.

“Malta, despite its small size, can now serve as a beacon of political courage that inspires others to introduce concrete measures and reforms,” he said.  Underlining the protection of marginalized and vulnerable people as a priority, he said the United Nations was pivotal in that process and must continue to spearhead, sustain and mobilize the international community along its path to 2030.  As it was located along the central Mediterranean route used for migrant smuggling and human trafficking, Malta knew first hand that “the exploitation of human misery knows no boundaries”.

While Malta was working as part of a wider European response to those challenges, he stressed that national and even regional action remained insufficient without a global response.  In that context, he welcomed progress towards a global compact on migration which would reaffirm States’ sovereign rights to decide on their own immigration policies while also committing them to build institutions that treated migrants with fairness, dignity and respect.

JOSÉ ULISSES CORREIA E SILVA, Prime Minister of Cabo Verde, said that, as a small island country, it could only be affirmed within the global economic system with political, institutional and social stability, and by being trustworthy in its relations with partners and investors.  Only by upholding the values of democracy, freedom, human dignity and full citizenship could States create peaceful and secure environments for all.  He expressed concern about the current international context, where new political crises, armed conflict and terrorist acts undermined the rule of law, democracy and States’ territorial integrity.  The security threats were global, as were the challenges and opportunities for their effective combat, he said, asserting that Africa’s permanent representation on the Security Council was fully justified and expressing support for reforms reflecting its addition.

With the 2030 Agenda, he said that humanity had for the first time in history a holistic framework that offered a real opportunity for sustainable and inclusive development.  The United Nations should play a catalytic role in mobilizing resources to tackle the challenges of its implementation.  Intense focus should be placed on middle-income countries, including small islands such as Cabo Verde, which lacked a common approach for the systematic assessment of their financing needs and structural vulnerabilities.  Rapid implementation of the Paris Agreement was a priority for small island developing States and should be for the world.  “Each island that disappears because of climate change will be a nightmare for humanity”, he said.

Rule of law, democracy and protection of human rights were imperative, he said, and should be pursued nationally and internationally.  He emphasized the Secretary-General’s initiative to establish a pact with Member States on the prevention of and response to sexual exploitation and abuse in all United Nations operations.  Cabo Verde had signed most international instruments in varied domains, he said, expressing satisfaction for having taken part in efforts to elaborate an international legal instrument on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.  He also expressed support for convening a diplomatic conference in 2018 that would work on a convention on that issue, which should have safeguards for the specific situation of small island States.  He also expressed strongest support for the International Criminal Court and its founding Rome Statute.

Noting that poet and songwriter Cesária Évora had described Cabo Verde as “10 little grains of sand” in the Atlantic, he said that, despite its small size, his country would position itself as a hub for tourism, air transport, port operations, business development and as a digital and nanotechnological economy.  As outlined in its strategic plan for sustainable development, Cabo Verde would become a useful interlocutor for dialogue, peace and tolerance, forging strategic partnerships.

Happiness was the ultimate right to which people aspired, he said, and the 2030 Agenda had provided the world not only a vision but a road map to bring happiness to people.  “It is in our hands” to support the United Nations in advancing the Happiness Agenda, he declared.

PHAM BINH MINH, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam, said that, since Viet Nam was admitted to the United Nations 40 years ago, it had become a dynamic economy on the path of reform and sustainable development, transforming from an aid-dependent country to a lower-middle income one.  Its Millennium Development Goal efforts had lifted tens of millions out of poverty.  With the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, the world community had chosen sustainable development as the path towards a better destiny for today and for future generations, he said.  That ambitious plan should now become a reality.  Developing countries should be given more favourable conditions and resources to realize the Sustainable Development Goals, he said, and developed nations should fulfil their commitments to provide financial assistance and technology to developing countries.

Sustaining peace should always be the top priority, he said.  For current global challenges, multilateralism had provided the most effective solutions.  Multilateral institutions were venues for countries to align their own interests, manage disputes and promote cooperation, but trust would falter if those institutions failed to prove their effectiveness.  Global and regional multilateral mechanisms should function in a transparent, effective and responsive manner.  The United Nations should be at the centre of coordination to address global challenges, and build an ever more comprehensive system of rules and norms with a mechanism for ensuring fairness and equality.  To do so, the Organization should carry out a comprehensive reform.

Concrete actions needed to be taken to prevent conflicts, build confidence and peacefully settle conflicts, including those in the Middle East and Africa, he said, and to call for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.  In the same vein, he said that the unilateral embargo against Cuba was inappropriate and he called for its immediate removal.  He welcomed the recent adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and called upon others to sign and ratify it.

ALLEN MICHAEL CHASTANET, Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Economic Growth, Job Creation, External Affairs and the Public Service of Saint Lucia, said climate change was reshaping the world.  He expressed sadness over the devastation wrought on the Caribbean by hurricanes, and dismay over the “silence of many and the weak acknowledgement” of others on the crisis.  “It has awakened in me the fear that we may be on our own to chart a path forward for our region,” he said.

It was impossible to avoid the facts of climate change, the impacts of which did not discriminate.  Small island developing States had warned that failure to respond would “betray our children and condemn future generations to future doom”, he said, recalling that Saint Lucia, along with most of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), was located in the heart of “hurricane alley”.

He welcomed the leadership of France, China and Germany on climate change issues, and asked the global community to remember “we exist in one global ecosystem”.  Nobel laureate Sir Derek Walcott spoke of the sense of responsibility to one’s neighbour, a sentiment that was exemplified by Premier Orlando Smith of the British Virgin Islands when he offered solidarity after Hurricane Maria.  More broadly, he said multilateral discussions to address inequality were critical.  If States indulged in differences, inequity would persist as the driving force in the international system and people would struggle to survive.  The global reality increasingly integrated economies, the environment and people.  As such, better policies were needed to promote equity.  Inequity pervaded every aspect of the global order:  the international community had not agreed on a minimum standard of living, and had failed to maintain base standards for health care, education, housing, security and economic opportunity.

Equity would stem the flow of migration, he said, offer opportunity and dull the drive to crime.  It must be the foundation for reforming the United Nations and he expressed support for the Secretary-General’s reform effort.  “We must seek the courage and wisdom to act boldly and collectively — to revise outmoded programs that are so glaringly inadequate to the needs of our time,” he stressed.  The international community must harness new ideas and technology, invest in people and focus on outcomes, not bureaucracy.  Discourse must be grounded in common respect and a commitment to deliver, respecting the United Nations Charter.  Small and developing nations must have the opportunity to thrive in the global environment, and build stronger, more resilient infrastructure.  The future would only be secure if challenges and opportunities were met with greater cooperation and understanding.

BRUNO EDUARDO RODRÍGUEZ PARRILLA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cuba, said that, in today’s world, the wealth of eight men equalled that of the poorest half of humanity.  Seven hundred people lived in extreme poverty and 21 million were victims of forced labour.  There were 22.5 million refugees, with humanitarian tragedies associated with migrant flows worsening an unjust global order.  The construction of walls and barriers, and adoption of laws barring refugees and migrants were cruel and ineffective, he said, stressing that xenophobic policies violated the human rights of millions.  Military spending had reached $1.7 trillion, belying those who claimed a lack of resources to eradicate poverty.  The 2030 Agenda lacked the means for its implementation.

Further, the production and consumption patterns of neoliberal capitalism were unsustainable and irrational, he said, pressing the United Nations to establish a new equitable and inclusive world order, with a new financial architecture.  Industrialized countries had the moral duty — and indeed the means — to do so.  Yet, not even they would enjoy prosperity if climate change continued, he said, expressing regret that the United States had withdrawn from the Paris Agreement.  The United States President had manipulated the concepts of sovereignty and security to his exclusive benefit and the detriment of all others, including his allies.  The principles of sovereign equality and territorial integrity should be observed, notably as the United Nations Charter and international law did not allow for reinterpretation.

He rejected the threat to “totally destroy” the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, stressing that war was not an option.  Only through negotiation could a lasting political solution be found that would consider the concerns of all involved parties.  He supported the total denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, without foreign interference and with respect for sovereign equality and territorial integrity.  Calling the new Cuban policy of the United States “a setback” in bilateral relations, he said it undermined the basis established two years ago for advancing ties characterized by respect and equality.  He condemned the “disrespectful, offensive and interventionist” statement made against Cuba by that country’s President, reminding him that the United States had no moral authority to judge Cuba.  Cuba was willing to continue negotiating all pending bilateral issues on the basis of equality and respect for sovereignty.

KHEMAIS JHINAOUI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Tunisia, recalled that, since 2011, his country had made strides in democratization and the promotion of State institutions, including those to protect human rights.  Recalling Tunisia’s first democratic election in 2014, he said addressing the threat of terrorism had forced it to double the budget of its military and security forces.  While such funding had allowed the Government to foil terrorist plots and preserve its security, more international support was needed.  Noting that Tunisia was promoting business investment and tourism, working to meet the employment demands of its young people, he stressed that the world’s hotbeds of terrorism were fuelled by poverty and war, and linked to organized crime, refugee flows and large-scale violations of human rights.

Calling for a comprehensive global response to the terrorist threat, he said more resources were also needed to address climate change.  Tunisia had mainstreamed the Sustainable Development Goals in its national plan for 2016 2020, also aligning its development priorities with African Union Agenda 2063.  Noting that it would present its first report on the implementation of the Goals at the next session of the Economic and Social Council High-Level Political Forum for Sustainable Development, he said it was critical to consider countries’ specific situations as they implemented those targets.  Indeed, reductions in financing to developing countries — especially in Africa — as they worked to achieve those goals would have a negative impact.  Tunisia had also signed the Paris Agreement, having committed to reducing its emissions by 41 per cent by 2030.

More broadly, he called for resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict centred on the prompt establishment of an independent Palestinian State.  Voicing concern about the conflict in neighbouring Libya, he said Tunisia was playing a mediation role, along with Algeria and Egypt.  All solutions to that issue must be in line with Security Council resolutions and avoid creating a leadership vacuum.  Current negotiations must serve as a springboard for a full and peaceful resolution.  On Syria, he urged parties to reach a consensus solution that preserved that country’s unity and territorial integrity, while addressing its catastrophic humanitarian situation.  The crisis in Yemen required more international support, he said, also condemning the flagrant violations of the human rights of the Rohingya people in Myanmar and urging the international community to intervene to end the violence.

DON PRAMUDWINAI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Thailand, said his nation agreed with the Secretary-General that the focus should be on people, not bureaucracy.  The United Nations must be less about debate and more about action.  When people lived decent lives, they thrived, and in turn, nations and our planet prospered.  When people struggled, nations did not advance.

Thailand envisioned that the lives of its people should become stable, prosperous and sustainable.  It aimed to build a value-based economy in which resources were used efficiently and in an environmentally friendly manner.  That economy required human wisdom more than it did high technology.  Since 2002, Thailand had embarked upon its universal health coverage system, which was an investment in its people and its future.  At present, 99.87 per cent of the population enjoyed health coverage, and the system had prevented more than 100,000 households from falling into poverty over the past decade.  In 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) recognized Thailand as the first country in Asia and second in the world to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis.

He expressed grave concern over the situation in the Korean Peninsula, and the recent nuclear and missile tests by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  He encouraged all parties to find a peaceful solution, along with full implementation of Security Council resolutions.  He also expressed deep concern about the ongoing violence and conflict elsewhere in the world.  As a neighbour, Thailand could not turn a blind eye to the situation in Rakhine State, which recently forced hundreds of thousands to leave their homes.  Humanitarian situations could not be solved overnight, but rather, called for long-term political and socioeconomic solutions.

JULIE BISHOP, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia, said the world faced challenges that threatened its rules-based order.  Also under threat was the authority of the Security Council, with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s actions representing the most egregious example.  While the Council had responded to that country’s recent nuclear weapons and missile tests with tough new economic sanctions, it was crucial that all Member States, especially the Council’s permanent members, strictly implement them to compel Pyongyang to abandon its illegal programmes.

For its part, Australia had put in place a range of autonomous sanctions beyond what the Council had mandated, she explained, and would explore further options should the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea continue its flagrant disregard of the views of the international community, as upheld by the Council.  Terrorism, and the extreme Islamist ideologies driving it, must be confronted and defeated.  Describing the use of chemical weapons — as had been confirmed in Syria — as another serious threat, she expressed support for the work of the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in identifying those who had deployed those appalling, illegal weapons.  Her country also chaired the 42-member Australia Group, which worked to prevent the spread of chemical and biological weapons, she said.

As the first nation to deploy military observers into the field in 1947, Australia supported efforts to ensure that United Nations peacekeepers were better trained, better equipped, more effective and acted with greater integrity, she said.  She welcomed the Secretary-General’s commitment to making the Organization a more effective defender and upholder of the rules-based order.  Urging all Member States to work together to those ends, she went on to outline other urgent challenges, ranging from sustainable and inclusive development to economic resilience to addressing the impacts of climate change and tackling modern-day slavery.  On the latter, she emphasized that forced labour, child labour and human trafficking were rampant, and outlined Australia’s efforts to address those crimes through a regional business-Government partnership launched jointly with Indonesia in August.

PÉTER SZIJJÁRTÓ, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, said Europe was on the front line of the migration crisis and its consequences.  Western Europe used to be the most secure and safest region globally.  A couple of years ago, events in the Middle East would not have happened in Europe, but the current fear of terrorist attacks was now a part of daily life — a direct consequence of the massive influx of illegal migrants over the last two and half years, he said.


Some 1.5 million illegal migrants had entered the European Union without any control, he said, which had given terrorist organizations the chance to send their fighters to the continent.  Former social integration procedures in Western Europe had failed.  Some integration processes of former migrants had been unsuccessful, and in many places, parallel societies had been constructed.  After the barbaric terrorist attacks in Europe and massive violations of international law, there were still leaders of international organizations and representatives of large countries who emphasized that migration was favourable and to be encouraged.

That was unacceptable and irresponsible behaviour, he said.  Encouraging migratory waves had only placed thousands of people into danger.  All States had a fundamental right to guarantee security for their people and to protect their borders.  He recalled that Hungary was a Christian country that was obliged to help people in need.  The rights of people must be restored where they had been violated, he said, and people must be helped to return home as soon as possible.  The solution to the migration crisis was in tackling the causes of conflict and stopping terrorist organizations.

ABDELKADER MESSAHEL, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Algeria, noting that leaders at each Assembly session had decried the “miserable state of the world”, urged leaders not to give up in confronting long-standing global challenges.  “We cannot but question our collective conscience over the deep-rooted causes” that had bankrupted global systems designed to protect generations from the scourge of war, he said, calling on the United Nations to help States protect human rights and implement the right to self-determination, while fundamentally reforming its own structures and management.  The Security Council in particular suffered from a major historical injustice, namely the absence of African representation in both categories of its membership.  Recalling that the Assembly had, for the first time, intervened effectively in the Secretary-General’s selection last year, he said that body’s authority should be expanded.

Underlining the importance of sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, and the primacy of political solutions to conflicts, he said the people of Mali must work “by themselves” to overcome obstacles to peace under the supervision of the United Nations and with support from neighbouring countries.  Stressing that the Western Sahara issue fell under the United Nations purview, he said a solution could not be found without allowing its people to exercise their right to self-determination.  He expressed hope that the appointment of a special envoy on that issue would pave the way to a peaceful resolution between the parties, Morocco and the Frente Polisario.  He also voiced support for the rights of the Palestinian people to establish an independent State.

Turning to the many terrorist attacks around the world, he said one result had been the spread of Islamophobia.  Algeria, aware of the dangers posed by terrorism and cross-border organized crime in its vicinity, maintained the highest degree of caution both internally and at its borders.  While migration could benefit societies, some manifestations of it threatened States.  Countries must find common and integrated solutions based on shared responsibilities and aimed at protecting the rights of those involved.  Finally, while the 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development were important tools for States to create inclusive growth, the global community must assist them.  With that in mind, he outlined a number of national policies aimed at development, economic diversification and improving social cohesion.

AMINA CHAWAHIR MOHAMED, Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade of Kenya, acknowledged the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals, outlining her country’s commitment to transform the 2030 Agenda into action and to leave no one behind.  Kenya had stepped up efforts to achieve the Goals, notably by offering free maternal health care across the country.  Together with the United Nations, the Government had established a Sustainable Development Goal platform to accelerate their attainment in a process that also involved development partners, the private sector and civil society.  Kenya intended to use the platform to pave the way for universal health care by 2021.

Climate change in East Africa had cost Kenya’s economy 3 per cent of its annual GDP, she said, underscoring that the need to address that phenomenon was not a choice but an imperative.  She commended the United Nations in its efforts to upgrade United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to enable it to fulfil its unique coordination mandate within the United Nations system.  Since its establishment, the United Nations Environment Assembly had helped the world refocus on the planet.  Through the Assembly, which was now the de facto world parliament for the environment, decisions that had fostered the well-being of nature were now being universally respected.

She welcomed the creation of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism, and looked forward to robust and productive engagement with it.  Kenya’s priorities targeted “counter-engagement in radicalization clusters”, disengagement of defectors, strengthened intelligence and law enforcement, and deploying whole‑of-Government approaches and socioeconomic tools in line with global strategy.  Kenya also supported United Nations reform, she said, and called for Africa’s representation in both the permanent and non-permanent categories of the Security Council, as outlined in the Common African Position.

GUDLAUGUR THÓR THÓRDARSON, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland, said that, while the world had never enjoyed so much potential, it also must decide whether it would use it.  “Our task is not easy,” he said, citing the impacts of climate change, terrorism and bad governance.  The international community was obliged to preserve the gains of recent decades, which had been based on science, facts and evidence.  Stressing that policy must continue to be based on those elements, he said the Paris Agreement provided a blueprint to address the threats posed by climate change.  “What happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic,” he stressed, voicing Iceland’s commitment to implementing that accord and reducing emissions alongside its European neighbours.

Warning against assaults on the rule of law by some Governments, he condemned in the strongest terms the actions of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  Chemical weapons use by Syria’s Government against its own people violated international law and demanded a strong global response.  Pointing to the challenges stemming from the refugee crisis, disregard for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and protracted conflict, he encouraged the Security Council to consider long-term perspectives in its mandates.  At the heart of violent extremism lay underdevelopment, he said, pointing to the 2030 Agenda as a “remarkable achievement” that could reverse those trends.  Meanwhile, the “disease” of disregarding human rights was spreading, and he expressed deep concern over the violations of the rights of the Rohingya in Myanmar.

Iceland strongly supported both the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), he said, along with its focus on women’s reproductive health and rights.  Noting that Iceland had become one of the wealthiest countries in Europe, he said its “rags-to-riches” path was a textbook example of the power of free trade.  He urged the international community open its markets, allowing poor countries to trade freely with all consumers.  Free trade also meant forming relationships and promoting interactions between peoples, regardless of colour or religion.  As the richest markets remained closed to poorest, it was incumbent on the international community to support developing nations.  Iceland supported a fair, rules-based international trading system under the World Trade Organization (WTO), and efforts to address the migration crisis grounded in human rights, he said, noting that “how we address this crisis will define us for future generations”.

MARGOT WALLSTRÖM, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, said “this is the moment for multilateralism, not unilateralism”, adding that, if countries did not grasp that chance, they would face the consequences.  Today, “going it alone” was not an option.  The United Nations had helped to reduce extreme poverty, increase life expectancy and extend life-saving humanitarian assistance.  Its development system must be radically reoriented to achieve the 2030 Agenda, complete with modern management systems.  Those reforms could not be pursued in isolation, because people did not experience life “in pieces”.  Development, peace and security and human rights were interlinked, and so should be global efforts.

Recalling that States were obliged to ensure more flexible financing, especially un-earmarked funding, she warned against cherry-picking to accommodate national interests.  Sweden planned to make $350 million available in 2018, bringing its budget to its highest ever, and fulfilling its promise to devote 1 per cent of its gross national income (GNI) to official development assistance (ODA).  On the Security Council, Sweden was working both with Council members and the wider membership to deliver results.  “Neither war nor peace is inevitable,” she said; it resulted from choices made.  She urged the Council to recognize the primacy of politics in its mandates and address the causes of conflict.  She urged it to better address the situation in Myanmar, which was a “haunting reminder” that the seeds of conflict had been ignored.  It must implement recommendations by the Advisory Commission led by former Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

For its part, Sweden would continue to work towards a political solution in Syria, she said, and encouraged parties in South Sudan to lay down their arms and engage in peace talks.  Efforts must also be made to implement the two-State solution for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Perhaps the greatest threat today was from provocations by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, she said, calling on that country to return to negotiations and follow the path towards denuclearization.  In the meantime, sanctions must be accompanied by efforts to reach a political solution.  She urged all countries to form their own feminist policies.  With climate change threatening to wash away development gains, and some doubting its existence, she asked:  “Are you really willing to take that chance?”

TUPOU VI, King of Tonga, expressing his solidarity and sympathy to the people of Mexico and the Caribbean, reiterated his call for the appointment of a Special Representative on climate and security.  It was imperative for the United Nations to develop the appropriate tools to respond to climate change.  International organizations like the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and World Bank had made strides to better finance disaster relief in small island nations, he said.  Still, a broader definition of “fragility” was needed to ensure preparedness against natural and economic shocks.

Tonga had established a national monitoring mechanism to oversee progress related to achieving the goals of the 2030 Agenda.  Close ties between Tonga and the United Nations were ensuring progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  Tonga was working closely with other small island States to achieve Goal 3 on good health and well-being, Goal 5 on gender equality and Goal 14 on the ocean and its resources.  Ocean degradation was particularly alarming, he said, as all small island nations were in fact “large ocean States”.  Achieving Goal 14 was critical to creating pathways towards sustainable development.  Issues from food security to economic growth required a whole-of-government approach, he said.

Durable partnerships, he assured, were the way towards development that left no one behind.  A key aspect of those partnerships was gender parity.  Tonga expressed its full support for the inclusion of women at all levels of the United Nations and welcomed the appointment of the first woman from his nation and the Pacific island region as High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.

Meeting current and future challenges required accessibility to sustainable energy, he said.  Mitigation efforts had to be targeted at overcoming the current dependence of imported fossil fuels.  A centre for renewable energy and energy efficiency was established in Tonga to assist Pacific island countries and territories towards achieving sustainable energy, he said.

Sustainable development was only possible in an environment of peace and security, he continued, calling on all Member States to reflect on how their power and legitimacy could benefit their people and the world.  Current tensions were derailing those goals, he said, appealing for a speedy resolution to the security crisis in the Korean Peninsula that was affecting global peace and security.

MANASSEH SOGAVARE, Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, noted that 2017 had been dominated by intentional provocations and natural disasters.  Emphasizing the need to address the needs of the 65 million people around the world who had been forcibly displaced from their homes as a result of persecution, conflict, violence and human rights violations, he reaffirmed his Government’s support for the concept of the “responsibility to protect”.  He urged the international community to stand firm in the fight to prevent crimes against humanity.  “While [Pacific countries] played a minor role in the geopolitics of this world, we are now once again caught in the midst of a global power play,” he said, pointing out that those countries continued to deal with the remnants of foreign-imposed events, from world wars to nuclear testing.

“Today, we refuse to remain silent,” he declared, condemning the actions of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the strongest terms and calling on that country to abide by all relevant Security Council resolutions.  The recent testing of ballistic missiles over the Pacific Ocean was an insult to the region’s people, he said, adding that “the sea is our sanctuary” as well as their source of food and income.  Maintaining the health of the world’s oceans was not only in their self-interest, but in the interest of all people, he said, reaffirming the principles enshrined in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the peaceful use of ocean spaces.

Small island developing States such as the Solomon Islands faced the threat of climate change, the effects of which were occurring at an alarming rate on their shores and presenting a “clear and present danger”.  Ocean acidification exceeded safe levels, he said, adding that his country had already lost six islands due to the effects of climate change.  “We are in survival mode,” he said, stressing that while the horrors of a nuclear attack were undeniable, those caused by climate change were just as cruel.  “If it’s not happening yet, it will shortly,” he said, warning that an unstable climate and the subsequent drivers of displacement and relocation could exacerbate some of the drivers of conflict, including migratory pressure, clashing cultures and competition for resources.  Those challenges could in turn morph into threats to global peace and security, he said.  He called upon major greenhouse-gas emitters to meet their nationally determined contributions, urging the United States, in particular, to reconsider its position on the Paris Agreement.

Recalling that the Solomon Islands had recently made its first “humble contribution” of five police officers to the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), he thanked the international community for having come to his country’s aid through the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI), noting that its mandate had ended on 30 June.  He also thanked the Peacebuilding Commission for having facilitated the National Dialogue on Peace and Sustainable Development, which reflected an inclusive and clear consensus on the country’s priorities

He called for Taiwan’s inclusion in the work of the General Assembly, also voicing support for New Caledonia’s planned 2018 status referendum.  It was to be hoped that the administering Power would show the same level of cooperation on the issue of French Polynesia, he said.  The Solomon Islands condemned consistent human rights violations in West Papua, he said, adding that the people there had never been allowed to exercise their right to self-determination.

ZORAN ZAEV, Prime Minister of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, said that human rights violations around the globe, as well as the widespread impunity and lack of accountability, should serve as a reminder to keep the protection of human rights, democracy and the rule of law at the core of all actions.  It was also important to focus on preventing violent extremism and radicalization as major factors in the recruitment of terrorists.  Noting the divergent approaches to that critical issue, he urged countries “not to focus on our differences”, but rather on “our primary responsibilities to act robustly for the common benefit”.

The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction continued to jeopardize global security, he said, adding that implementation of Security Council resolution 1540 (2004) was therefore fundamental to minimizing the potentially disastrous consequences of their use.  The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia called for the peaceful denuclearization of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and for that country’s adherence to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

Turning to sustainable development, he stressed that many issues that were vital to prosperity related to implementation of the 2030 Agenda.  In that sense, it was crucial to foster cooperation and build new partnerships to enhance the economic, environmental and social dimensions of sustainability.  The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia had already undertaken efforts to transform the Sustainable Development Goals into practice by adopting the new United Nations Development Assistance Framework programme “Partnerships for Sustainable Development: UN Strategy 2016‑2020,” he said.  Concerning migration and refugees, he said that his country supported the ongoing consultations on the two compacts for refugees and migrants, respectively.

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia had emerged from a deep political and institutional crisis through its firm belief that “democracy needs to be driven by civic engagements from the bottom up,” he said, noting that the Government’s ambitious 3‑6‑9 reform plan prescribed short-, medium- and long-term measures aimed at restoring democracy, building independent institutions and improving living standards.  The final goal would be to “expedite integration within the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).”

He said the Government had demonstrated its readiness and capacity to overcome open issues with neighbours, in an atmosphere of mutual respect for each other’s national interests.  A concrete example of its good intentions was the signing of the bilateral agreement on friendship, good neighbourliness and cooperation with Bulgaria.  As for the 25‑year-long “name issue” dispute with Greece, he said the interim agreement of 1995 had laid the foundations for normalizing relations between that country and his own, and they were implementing confidence-building measures that would lend fresh impetus to their efforts to overcome “the long-standing bilateral dispute”.  He commended the efforts of Matthew Nimetz, Personal Envoy of the Secretary‑General, in mediating the dispute.

HAILEMARIAM DESALEGN, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, welcomed moves to strengthen the role of United Nations peacekeeping efforts with the aim of addressing challenges to international peace and security.  Geopolitical tensions reminiscent of the cold war had increased, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism and extremism had continued to wreak havoc across the world.  Global income inequality was not only a development challenge, but a security threat.

Those global challenges would require global solutions and multilateralism, he said.  The United Nations was even more indispensable as it could mobilize the world towards working on the goals of collective peace and prosperity.

Political means, he continued, were crucial to resolving the many conflict and crisis situations around the world, a point which was highlighted in recent peace and security reviews by the United Nations.  He agreed that political means were important to bring an end to the crisis in South Sudan and conflicts in Syria, Yemen and the Korean Peninsula.  Political will and commitment would be required for political parties to find solutions through dialogue and negotiation.  However, there was also a need for stronger global-regional partnerships, and the United Nations could play a leading role in forming those partnerships.

Another point highlighted by the peace and security reviews was the interlinkages between peace, security and development, he said.  “More peaceful and inclusive societies create an environment conducive to sustainable development.  Sustainable peace is both an enabler and an outcome of sustainable development,” he explained.  In recent years, countries had shown commitment to achieving sustainable development by supporting the 2030 Agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement.  However, those efforts had fallen short of expectations.  The global situation had not been conducive to implementing the Goals.  Despite challenges, Ethiopia had pressed ahead in introducing policies to reduce poverty, enhance quality of life and boost economic growth.

Apart from poverty, he said Ethiopia was also grappling with climate change, and in that regard he called on countries to act decisively to address that issue.

ANTONI MARTÍ PETIT, Prime Minister of Andorra, describing his country as a “faithful defender of the multilateral order”, called for effective cooperation to address global challenges.  No country, no matter how powerful, could handle today’s challenges alone.  Meeting development goals required the recognition of the nexus between peace and development.  To that end, development goals would never be met if climate change went ignored.  Catastrophic climate events affected all nations, he said, noting that Andorra was prioritizing the development of renewable energy, production of electric vehicles and finding more effective ways to heat households.

Development must be inclusive, he said.  Member States had to resolve to work for the benefit of all.  Andorra was working on the development of an equality white paper.  That process featured the close cooperation of all sectors of civil society.  Through that project, Andorra would be able to better evaluate progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, especially regarding gender equity.  He shared Andorra’s plan to develop free education systems and its effort to eliminate discrimination in teaching.

Andorra pledged to promote the concept of “peace through development” at the Economic and Social Council, he continued.  As rating agencies were closely monitoring economic and financial progress around the world, he urged those agencies to place social well-being at the centre of their work.  “Promoting social development is a key element to achieving peace,” he said.

He said the United Nations was born with the purpose of ensuring peace; however, security had since developed very complex dimensions.  Mitigating terrorism and other threats called for United Nations reform.  He welcomed the Secretary‑General’s push for reform of the development system and creation of a counter-terrorism office, saying all bodies had to work in a coordinated manner.  He called on Member States to ensure global agreements, including the 2030 Agenda and Paris Agreement, became truly binding.

Mutual respect would lead to a more peaceful world, he assured.  The link between peace, human rights and inclusive development could not be ignored. Because of that, Andorra would support the International Criminal Court’s capacity to act as a matter of course in the most serious issues without the need for Security Council intervention.  He also called for limiting veto powers within the Council when dealing with cases of mass atrocities.  He insisted “inclusive multilateralism” had to be the guiding principle of all Member States.

HASSAN ALI KHAYRE, Prime Minister of Somalia, said that after years of war, famine, poverty and displacement, his country was on the rise and determined to stay the course.  It aimed to contribute to the progress of its region, its continent and the world.  Its people had embraced a new dawn, he said, emphasizing that debt relief would help unlock concessional financing, attract foreign investment and support reform efforts.

Unity in addressing the terrorism was critical, he said, calling for redoubled military interventions against ISIL and Al-Qaida.  In Somalia, significant strides had been made to weaken Al-Shabaab, he said, thanking the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) for its sacrifice and solidarity.  To ensure the sustainability of those gains, Somalia was strengthening its national security forces, he said, adding that the Government would work with the Security Council and others on a road map towards the lifting of the arms embargo.

Somalia, among other countries, had been ravaged by man-made and natural disasters that resulted from environmental degradation, he said.  Currently, the humanitarian situation of millions of Somalis was fragile due to drought and the threat of famine.  Like other countries at the receiving end of climate change, Somalia lacked the resources to tackle that ever-growing problem.  He urged all Member States to improve upon the Paris Agreement and to make long-term investment in his country’s infrastructure, water conservation, innovative food and livestock production and job creation.

“We need to get better at streamlining global development and aid structures, especially for fragile States,” he said.  The New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States, agreed upon in 2011, was a good step in that direction, but it needed improvement.  Predictable financing for non-United Nations peacekeeping missions must also be found.  That was particularly true for AMISOM, which had registered tremendous success for over a decade, yet operated each year amid funding uncertainty.  He underscored significant steps Somalia was taking to increase the participation of women and youth in decision-making.  Legislation to address sexual offences would be approved soon, he said, adding that the Government was seeking ways to harmonize traditional dispute resolution with the justice system in a way that respected human rights.

THOMAS MOTSOAHAE THABANE, Prime Minister of Lesotho, said that sadly, the world was regressing to the one that existed seven decades ago, with multifaceted and complex challenges threatening to erode the laudable strides made by the United Nations since its formation.  The Organization’s ability to resolve conflicts was being put to the test.  Respect for human rights and the rule of law was being flouted with impunity.  Women and children in particular faced brutal forms of abuse, while poverty was undermining developing countries’ efforts to reorient their economies towards real growth.  The international community must act in unison, he said, calling for a new strategy that would encapsulate the Sustainable Development Goals and integrate a focus on people.

With its newly inaugurated Administration, Lesotho intended to embark on an ambitious yet achievable reform programme, he said.  The Government was committed to strict fiscal discipline, combating corruption and harnessing the energy of Basotho youth to advance the economy.  Lesotho was still dealing with HIV/AIDS, which was more prevalent among women, he said, adding that putting more women into leadership positions — in both the public and private sectors — would lead to a more equitable and prosperous society.

Underscoring the challenges faced by landlocked developing countries like his, he called for increased international assistance in infrastructure, institutional capacity-building and industrialization.  Prolonged droughts in Lesotho — along with hurricanes in the Caribbean and United States, and torrential rains elsewhere — were stark reminders of climate change.  Urgent action must be taken in line with the Paris Agreement, he said, calling on the international community to provide Africa with more financial resources for climate-friendly technologies.

The business of decolonization remained unfinished, he said, citing the questions of Western Sahara and Palestine.  There must be renewed determination to fight injustices perpetrated against the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic.  The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons must be ratified and implemented by all.  The United Nations was the only universal institution that could safeguard world peace and ensure the survival of all, he said, but to fulfil its role, its reform agenda must go forward without delay.  A reformed Security Council that was transparent and representative of all regions, including Africa, would go far towards fulfilling the ideas for which the Organization was formed.

LOUIS STRAKER, Deputy Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, said the death and destruction wrought by the 2017 hurricane season was the very manifestation of climate change, and it was a “bare-faced insult to the intelligence and experience of the peoples of island States and coastal areas to call climate change a hoax”.  Small island developing States were the most vulnerable to climate change, yet they contributed least to the emissions that caused it, he pointed out, demanding that those contributing the most emissions do the most to mitigate its effects and assist others.  The global community had come together to craft the Paris Agreement, he said, adding that his country viewed any attempt to disavow its commitments as an “act of hostility”.

He went on to state that numerous Caribbean States required assistance in terms of relief and long-term reconstruction, and that assistance must be concessional and free from “antiquated notions” of per capita GDP.  To that end, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines called for a donors’ conference to address those challenges.  Caribbean territories with special relationships to colonial Powers were in desperate need of assistance and had limited options for international cooperation, given their political status, he said.  Saint Vincent and the Grenadines had sent assistance and technical expertise to those territories, he said, while calling upon administering and colonial Powers, as well as potential donors, to assist in their recovery and rehabilitation.

Turning to armed conflict, he emphasized that human suffering in Syria, Yemen and Myanmar demanded greater international attention and action.  Similarly, threats posed by tensions on the Korean Peninsula, the Gulf States and the State of Palestine required persistent and prioritized diplomacy.  Frustration with the pace of negotiation and mediation should not lead to quick military fixes of political problems, or interpretations of sovereign self-interest that justified trampling the sovereignty of other States, he stressed.  Saint Vincent and the Grenadines was alarmed by “interventionist” threats against Venezuela’s sovereignty by the United States and the Organization of American States, he said, underlining also that any threat against Cuba would be an “anachronistic throwback to cold war posturing without any logical justification”.

He said his country had been honoured to host the 2017 Caribbean Regional Seminar on Decolonization, but the “inconvenient truth” was that the decolonization process remained incomplete, including in West Papua.  Intensified efforts would be essential to realizing full self-government and absolute political equality, he emphasized.  On improving the United Nations, he reiterated the need for a reformed Security Council with expanded permanent membership, a special voice for island States and radically revised working methods.  The General Assembly and Economic and Social Council must consider reforms to the international financial architecture, in particular the Bretton Woods institutions.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines placed climate change at the centre of national development strategies and implemented many regulations and investments to that end, he said, adding that realizing the Sustainable Development Goals would require international cooperation and commitment.  He highlighted the international campaign to secure reparations from the former colonial Powers which would assist in development.  He also called for addressing the Dominican Republic’s denial of citizenship for people of Haitian descent during the cholera epidemic caused by United Nations peacekeepers in their country; the legitimate incorporation of Taiwan into the United Nations; and recognition of the national rights of the Palestinian people.

PRAK SOKHONN, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia, expressed deep concern about the situation on the Korean Peninsula and appealed to all parties concerned to exercise restraint, avoid provocations and remain committed to dialogue.  The unilateral and illegal embargo on Cuba must also be lifted, he said.  Emphasizing his country’s vulnerability to extreme weather events, he said climate change represented a serious and unprecedented threat to global peace and security.  Recalling that Cambodian peacekeepers were killed and wounded during rebel ambushes in the Central African Republic, he paid tribute to those who had died while serving under the United Nations flag.

Cambodia had no issue with human rights monitoring, so long as it was done in an impartial manner, taking into account all pertinent facts on the ground, and without prejudice or conjecture on the part of observers, he said.  However, the assessment of human rights situations varied according to the political predispositions of certain great Powers.  That also held true for big international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) whose agenda was far from being politically neutral.  “The issue of human rights and democracy is raised only when the specific interests of certain major Powers are at stake, at the vagaries of the moment,” he stated.  “Otherwise, it is a sheer silence, and often a conspiracy of silence.”

He said that, as a survivor of the genocidal Pol Pot regime, it pained him to hear the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia refer to the crimes perpetrated by that regime as mere “troubles”.  Partial and biased reports never failed to condemn the Government while portraying the opposition as martyrs of democracy and human rights.  Never were the wrongdoings and illegal behaviour of the opposition mentioned.  History had shown that when Cambodia was forced to choose a path set by some Western Powers, it suffered the worst consequences.  The discourse of certain Governments on human rights and democracy would only be relevant and credible when they subjected themselves to the same standard as others with regard to assessments, criticism and condemnation, he said.

WILFRED ELRINGTON, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Belize, outlined the myriad ways the region and his country were meeting modern challenges and threats such as climate change, ocean pollution and non-communicable diseases.  Belize was tapping into a mix of domestic and international channels “mindful of the inhospitable international policy environment”.  The Government was also working on strengthening capacity to improve revenue collection.  Incentivizing business investment in Belize remained critical, he continued, adding that like other vulnerable small island developing States, Belize had experienced a sharp decline in foreign direct investment (FDI) between 2015 and 2016.  As of 2016, FDI flows to small island developing States represented only 0.2 per cent of overall global flows.

To buck that downward trend, Belize had created some business incentives within the policy space prescribed by the WTO, he continued.  Belize had also reformed key institutions to ensure the integrity of its financial services industry and was committed to combating tax evasion.  Despite that progress, Belize remained vulnerable to unilateral declarations labelling its jurisdiction as uncooperative or non-compliant.  “Such unilateral declarations cause undue damage,” he stressed, adding that they undermined the country’s legislative and administrative measures.  In that context, the United Nations was best poised to foster a more inclusive, transparent and consultative process to address issues such as international cooperation on tax matters.  Belize was heavily indebted and required international support to fulfil the 2030 Agenda.

He urged the United Nations to do more to address the unique challenges facing small island developing States and said he looked forward to engaging in discussions on debt swaps for climate action and the expansion of climate risk insurance.  “We depend on the UN to champion and protect the rule of law,” he said.  He noted the injustice perpetrated upon the people of “Taiwan”, Cuba, Palestine, Syria, Yemen, Western Sahara, South Sudan and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and expressed support to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) position on Venezuela.  He also expressed support to the Organization’s new approach to cholera in Haiti.  His country remained committed to working with Guatemala to finalize a cooperation mechanism for the Sarstoon River in order to minimize the potential for growing tensions along Belize’s southern border.

NICOLA RENZI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of San Marino, said the United Nations must adapt to new global challenges and opportunities.  San Marino called for Security Council reform that would make that organ more democratic, transparent, efficient and accountable.  His country also supported the Secretary‑General’s reform agenda.  Human rights were the raison d’être of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, he said, emphasizing that more had to be done for the 700 million people living in extreme poverty and experiencing malnutrition.

Gender equality must be a goal of the international community, but unfortunately, women remained victims of discrimination and violence in many parts of the world, including in most developed countries, he said.  In support of the Secretary‑General’s initiatives, San Marino had signed the compact to combat and prevent sexual abuse and exploitation in the context of United Nations peacekeeping missions.

He underscored his country’s support for the Secretary‑General’s initiative to strengthen conflict prevention and mediation.  In that regard, it would participate in an Italian initiative to create a network of women mediators in the Mediterranean area.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear programme was a threat to global security, he continued, stressing the need for a robust disarmament and non-proliferation policy.

AURELIA FRICK, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Liechtenstein, said the United Nations symbolized hope for peace, justice, life in dignity and decency.  She reiterated that Member States must seek solutions together instead of nationalist agendas, to prevent armed conflict.  For the first time since the creation of the United Nations, Member States had the opportunity to give an international tribunal jurisdiction over the crime of aggression, wherein the most serious forms of the illegal use of force would be punishable.  She appealed to all Member States to live up to the commitment made when they signed the United Nations Charter, and enforce the prohibition of the illegal use of force by making it punishable in the highest court of law.

Despite 2018 marking the twentieth anniversary of the International Criminal Court, she continued, that organization still lacked universality, and a significant impunity gap remained.  The people of Syria, in particular, suffered atrocious crimes, and the international community’s silence in response to those crimes was shameful.  In 2016, the General Assembly established the accountability mechanism, which would be critical in preparing case files for prosecution.  Key to its success would be strong political, financial and substantive support from Member States.  Accountability for the worst crimes imaginable was essential; however, only prevention was the effective form of protection against those crimes.  She called for leadership and effective action by the Security Council to end and prevent such actions as outlined in the code of conduct for mass atrocity crimes.

There were many “forgotten crises” in the world that required significant humanitarian assistance, yet responses fell short and collective attention only did justice to the most visible emergencies, she said.  Armed conflict remained a key driver of displacement, human suffering and instability.  Mass movements of people and irregular migration created anxiety and fear, but it would be critical to overcome such reactions.  To that end, she placed high hopes on the global compact on migration set to be adopted in 2018.  There remained a disturbing level of impunity for human trafficking and modern slavery, and she called for the international community to apply the tools developed to combat other forms of organized crime.  Liechtenstein would be prepared to make the expertise available as a financial centre committed to international standards of transparency and accountability.

On gender equality, she noted the disturbing trend of unfulfilled commitments and strategies that were little more than “empty promises”.  Achievements were under attack, levels of political participation decreased and gender pay gaps remained shocking.  The Sustainable Development Goals would only be achievable with gender equality.  Climate change, she continued, must be addressed together and the Paris Agreement was the only realistic hope to address the threat.

NIKOS KOTZIAS, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Greece, said the United Nations must be reformed and evolve to remain relevant.  Amid insecurity and instability around the world, his country was shaping a multidimensional foreign policy to contribute to peace, including through supporting United Nations dialogue and cooperation with the European Union and with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).  Condemning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s latest missile testing, Greece supported efforts that sought avenues of dialogue.  For its part, it had initiated a range of projects aimed at promoting stability in the regions such as the Middle East, parts of North Africa and the Balkans, with a view to developing a positive agenda for cooperation.

Highlighting several concerns, he said Syria and Libya must pursue political paths to resolve ongoing crises, and a two-State solution was the only way to approach the unsustainable situation between Israel and the State of Palestine.  An active partner in counter-terrorism efforts, Greece supported initiatives to tackle the movement of foreign fighters and address the root causes of extremism.  Concerned about the fate of ethnic and religious communities in the Middle East, Greece supported efforts aimed at promoting concerted international action against trafficking in antiquities and cultural artefacts.

Turning to regional issues, he said his nation had pursued friendly relations and enhanced cooperation with neighbouring States, stressing the need to safeguard the process of the European Union enlargement policy in the West Balkans.  Efforts by Greece to design and implement bilateral confidence-building measures with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia had proven to be conducive to cooperation.  Striving to improve relations with Turkey, Greece had adopted a wide range of initiatives.  Regarding the Cyprus issue, Greece’s goal was to make it a normal State.  On civil and political rights, his country supported the fight against racism and human trafficking and promoted the protection of human rights in all policies addressing large movements of migrants.

MAXINE PAMELA OMETA MCCLEAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados, called attention to the vulnerability of small island nations in the face of unchecked climate change.  The Caribbean was at the epicentre of the global climate crisis, she said.  For Barbados and other small island nations, climate change had become a matter of “life and death”.  In light of a devastating hurricane season, she called on the Secretary-General and World Bank to convene a pledging conference to assist affected countries.  While there was a moral obligation to assist, she noted “persistent challenges” faced by the region when trying to access resources to protect their citizens.  The label of “middle-income country” was also a barrier to much needed assistance, she said.

She said that the impacts of climate change affected major economic sectors, including tourism.  Damage in the Caribbean extended to the outbreak of diseases and biosecurity had to be a part of emergency response.  Constant cycles of recovery and rebuilding were serious impediments to sustainable development, she said.  To build resilience, Barbados was focusing on developing a resource-efficient green economy.  It was actively investing in education and health to ensure inclusive development.  Special attention was being given to vulnerable sectors of society, she assured.  Because of their inherent vulnerabilities, small island States had to be “special cases for sustainable development”.

Multilateralism was the path towards combating global threats, she said, adding that transnational crime presented challenges for Barbados.  She pointed to regional threats to stability, including the long-standing economic embargo on Cuba.  Latin American and Caribbean countries had declared the region as a “zone of peace”, she said, noting her country’s support for the territorial integrity of Belize and Guyana.  Inclusion of all Member States was at the heart of ensuring success of the United Nations.  Reform to the Organization had to be fully transparent, she said, adding that international goals would only be met through cooperation and dialogue.

ABDULLAH BIN ZAYED AL NAHYAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Arab Emirates, said that his country worked hard and responsibly to promote the stability and development of Arab countries, as well as tackle the destruction that the region’s wars had left in their wake.  The crises in that region had several causes: extremism and terrorism, interference by States in each other’s internal affairs, as well as aggressive and expansionist policies driven by hegemonic ambitions.  While the international community had made progress in confronting humanitarian threats, more could be done to restore stability in the Arab world.

The development progress that had been made should be protected, otherwise conflicts in Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia would be managed instead of solved, he said.  In those countries, stability could be restored, but only if outside interference in Arab affairs was stopped.  A firm and sincere rejection of extremism and terrorism was also needed.  The elimination of that threat from the Arab region was within reach.  The liberation of ancient Arab cities such as Mosul in Iraq and Mukalla in Yemen from the grip of terrorist organizations was proof.

International efforts to achieve peace in the region would not be successful without ending the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian and Arab territories, which had lasted over seven decades, he said.  That situation made young people vulnerable to exploitation by terrorist groups who claimed that they were the only choice through which they could achieve their aspirations.  He also affirmed his country’s solid position and legitimate right to sovereignty over its three islands of Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa, which were occupied by Iran in violation of international law and the Charter.  Two years had passed since Iran’s nuclear agreement, with no sign of change in its “hostile” behaviour in the region or any desire to abandon its nuclear ambitions.  He supported enhancing controls on Iran’s nuclear programme and the continued assessment of the agreement and its provisions.

TSEND MUNKH-ORGIL, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mongolia, said his country was committed to implementing its target of 14 per cent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.  In parallel to the 2030 Agenda, Mongolia’s Vision 2030 had integrated the three pillars of development into the Government action plan for 2016‑2020.  He highlighted the challenges facing landlocked developing countries, particularly in the areas of trade and access to markets.  Enhancing connectivity was a priority for all landlocked developing economies, he continued, noting several existing agreements that helped that group reduce trade costs and boost trade.

Mongolia remained committed to engaging its neighbours on transit transportation and infrastructure development, he said.  The China-Mongolia-Russia economic corridor would focus on the implementation of joint projects to increase trade turnover, ensure competitiveness in goods supply and facilitate cross-border transportation.  The three countries were in the process of setting up a trilateral mechanism to coordinate the corridor’s implementation.  Mongolia was keen to work with its partners on energy projects as well.  It was also focusing on improving health-care services and access to education, and ending all forms of poverty.

He expressed concern over the situation on the Korean Peninsula, reiterating that the area must be a nuclear-weapon-free zone.  Dialogue was the only way to solve that threat.  He also called on the international community to support migrants on the move and said he looked forward to the adoption of the global compact for migration in 2018.  Mongolia was a proud contributor to United Nations peacekeeping missions, he continued, adding that its peacekeepers had renovated several schools in South Sudan.  He also expressed his commitment to the eradication of the death penalty, torture and other degrading treatment.

AURÉLIEN AGBENONCI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Benin, said efforts must be pooled to guarantee sustainable development for all.  For its part, Benin had drawn up a national road map that took into account its demographic dividend.  Projects focused on strengthening human capital, ensuring health insurance and protecting the environment.  Benin was also spearheading efforts in research on the sustainable development of agriculture in Africa.

On climate change, he called the Paris Agreement a necessary instrument, adding that it had been many decades since the world faced so many crises.  In many places, peace and rule of law was under threat.  Attacks against multilateralism, and therefore the United Nations, were part of the “dangerous trend which we must reject”.  In that context, the African Union must reform to meet emerging challenges.  Meanwhile, United Nations reforms, particularly the Security Council, must reflect a democratic nature.  He said that Africa was the only continent not represented in the category of permanent members.

On the Middle East, he said the creation of the Palestinian State living side by side with Israel would undoubtedly reduce tensions in the region.  He also expressed support to creating a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East.  Benin would remain committed to supporting the United Nations, which remained a unique forum for dialogue and action.

PEHIN LIM JOCK SENG, Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade II of Brunei Darussalam, said building a better future for all required long-term commitment and significant investments.  Focusing on youth development, particularly through quality education, was key.  Job opportunities were also crucial to improve living standards for the unemployed.  Brunei Darussalam would continue to work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by promoting efficiency in energy consumption and gradually deploying renewable energy.  Forest conservation was also a high priority.  The Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) achievement over the past 50 years in ensuring regional peace and stability had enabled Brunei Darussalam to pursue development objectives in a peaceful and harmonious environment.  The country had consistently achieved a very high ranking in the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) human development index.

Expressing concern about the constant threats of terrorism and violent extremism, he said that such acts should not be linked to any race, religion, nationality or ethnicity.  To address them, special attention should be given to the root causes - including poverty, marginalization and alienation, notably among youth - and to creating societies resilient to destructive ideologies.  He also expressed concern about pandemic diseases and natural disasters, sympathizing with those affected by such disasters in Mexico, Sierra Leone, the United States, and countries in the Caribbean and South Asia.

Peace, freedom, justice and self-determination were fundamental rights of the Palestinian people, he said, adding that the United Nations had a moral and legal obligation to enforce such rights and ensure accountability for actions that contravened international law.  “We have to press on with all effort in translating the growing international recognition of the State of Palestine into positive changes on the ground, so that Palestinians can pursue sustainable development in their own homeland,” he added.  He also stressed the importance of fostering relations between the United Nations and regional organizations like the Commonwealth and ASEAN.  He expressed support for reforming the United Nations as envisioned by the Secretary‑General, and repositioning the Organization to focus more on conflict-prevention measures, including mediation.

DATO SRI ANIFAH AMAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Malaysia, recalled that his country had on 20 September signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, expressing hope that that agreement would steer the international community towards eliminating such armaments.  Malaysia remained committed to its international obligations in the fields of disarmament and international security through various national, regional and international approaches.  In that context, he condemned the nuclear tests and missile launches of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The “clearance operations” by Myanmar in Rakhine State had claimed countless innocent lives and caused more than 400,000 Rohingyas to flee their homes, he continued, expressing his country’s concerns for such atrocities.  He called on the Government of Myanmar to end the violence and stop the destruction to life and properties.  On the Middle East, he reiterated that any action by Israel to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the holy city of Jerusalem were illegal and unacceptable.  Israel’s illegal settlement activities continued unabated.  The plight of some 5 million Palestinian refugees must not be ignored.  The international community must provide financial assistance to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

It was essential for communities of different race, religion and culture to band together in seeking common peaceful aspirations rather than be enticed into extremist traps, he continued.  Voices of reason, tolerance and understanding must be allowed to drown out those which glorify extremism and sow seeds of hatred.  The United Nations should not stand idly by, he continued, emphasizing that any major reform initiative that may include cost-cutting measures must not disrupt existing development efforts.

SAMURA M. W. KAMARA, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, speaking on behalf of Ernest Bai Koroma, President of Sierra Leone, stressed the need to strengthen the role of mediation in the settlement of disputes, highlighting the gains realized through preventive diplomacy.  Mediation remained a powerful tool for preventing and settling armed conflicts and must be fully utilized.  Mediation efforts had proven very fruitful for Sierra Leone in terms of timely cessation of hostilities, credible ceasefire agreements and the deployment of peacekeeping missions.

All those factors remained essential in undertaking and supervising the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants, he noted.  Regional organizations had also helped to ensure greater responses in the implementation of preventive measures such as early-warning mechanisms, he said, adding that the Peacebuilding Commission had played an exemplary role.  He said that, since his assumption of Sierra Leone’s leadership almost 10 years ago, the country had continued to make steady progress, particularly in human development, agriculture and food security, and democracy.  “These transformative strategies have gone a long way in repairing and healing more visibly the damage and scares resulting from a brutal war,” he said.  They had also charted the path for realizing sustainable development.

Three years ago, however, the unprecedented outbreak of Ebola had “wiped out the social and economic gains Sierra Leone had painstakingly achieved” in its post-conflict reconstruction, he said.  The epidemic had revealed fundamental systemic weaknesses, especially in the health-care system.  More recently, in August, Sierra Leone had been hit by torrential rainfall, which had led to flash flooding in several areas of Freetown, the capital, as well as its outskirts.  Women and children had been the most affected, he said, noting that more than 500 lives had been lost and 600 people were still missing.  Thousands more had been left homeless.  “These disasters are a stark reminder that climate change is real,” he said, adding that they demonstrated Sierra Leone’s vulnerability.

He went on to state that under his leadership, Sierra Leone had enhanced political stability by laying the basis for good governance and allowing critical institutions sufficient leverage to deliver on their mandates.  The Government had marked significant milestones in the areas of gender equality, women’s empowerment, and youth employment.  It had established a more effective regulatory environment for investment and built a resilient health system more capable of responding to threats like Ebola.  Sierra Leone was diversifying its economy with a focus on the agriculture, fisheries, tourism and manufacturing industries, besides investing in education and health, he said, declaring: “Economic potential remains enormous.”

Noting that Sierra Leone was preparing for another cycle of presidential, parliamentary and local government elections, he said: “I will be leaving office with the sincere hope that successful implementation of projects and programmes I have laid out will enhance Sierra Leone’s attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals.”  Beyond the compelling urge to correct the historical injustices done to Africa, he added, the international community must reflect on the present geopolitical realities which called for the reform and modernization of the United Nations system, particularly the Security Council.

Right of Reply

The representative of Serbia, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said the Prime Minister of Albania had used his statement to call on Member States to recognize Kosovo as an independent State.  He also misled Member States by contending that the ongoing dialogue in Brussels between Belgrade and Pristina was between Serbia and Kosovo.  Such interventions risked jeopardizing that dialogue.  Kosovo was not an independent State nor was it a Member State of the United Nations, she said, adding that Serbia would use all diplomatic means to preserve its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The representative of Qatar, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said the United Arab Emirates’ statement was a continuation of false claims and allegations by parties to a blockade aimed at defaming his country and hurting its relations with other States.  Many countries had spoken of the negative impact of that unjust blockade.  Qatar’s record in confronting terrorism was known to all and it would always be firm in implementing Security Council resolutions on terrorism.  He said the United Arab Emirates must stop violating Council resolutions on Libya and to cease creating chaos and launching conflicts.  Qatar also called on the international community to condemn the blockade.

The representative of Albania, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said Kosovo had been an independent State since 2008, recognized by 114 countries.  It had established and strengthened its worldwide geopolitical identity, it participated in all regional initiatives in South-East Europe and it was working towards European Union membership.  Albania was convinced that the United Nations and other international organizations would only benefit from Kosovo’s presence and contribution.  Albania supported the European Union-facilitated dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia and encouraged both countries to work towards a full normalization of relations.

The representative of the United Arab Emirates, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said he regretted seeing Qatar once again trying to distract the General Assembly with regard to the international commitments that it should be upholding.  The decision to break diplomatic ties with Qatar was a direct response to its own actions, which had destabilized the region.  Qatar was violating international law as well as Security Council resolutions, he said.  The United Arab Emirates would proceed on the basis of decisions it had taken, as there was no other way to protect itself from Qatar’s hostile actions, he added.

The representative of Egypt, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said his country and others had decided to take legal action to prevent Qatar from interfering in the affairs of regional States.  The Qatari regime was financing terrorism, most recently in Iraq, where they had payed ransom to terrorists.  Qatar was providing terrorists with a safe haven.  It refused to prosecute them and continued to instigate terrorist attacks.  That had been going on for years.  “The insistence of the regime to support terrorism was something that we all reject,” he said.  The countries that had decided to take action against Qatar did so in accordance with international law.  He reminded the Qatari regime that fighting terrorism was an obligation under international law.

On a second intervention, the representative of Qatar said it was truly regrettable that the representative of the United Arab Emirates would attack Qatar.  It was not, however, surprising.  The United Arab Emirates had recently hacked a Qatar news agency.  The lies included in the United Arab Emirates statement were just a continuation of its fabrication campaign.  Any link between Qatar and terrorism was false.  Such abominable attempts to taint Qatar’s reputation had failed.

For information media. Not an official record.