Tackling a wide range of international concerns ranging from the long‑term consequences of colonialism and climate change to increasing inequality and the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, nearly 40 Heads of State and Government recalled the lessons of history and spoke of challenges, initiatives and progress, as the General Assembly general debate entered its second day.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of Ghana noted that over half of the work of the Security Council in 2017 was focused on Africa, largely on peacekeeping and poverty-related matters. While that was noble work, Africa no longer wanted to be the place that required such aid. Ghana, along with other African countries, had been forging relations with China to address the matter. Addressing the rumours about the risk of being recolonized by a new Power, he pointed out that China’s first railroads had been built and financed by Western companies when the Asian nation was near bankruptcy. Now, China is lending billions to countries around the globe to construct railroads and other infrastructure. African countries were not the only ones learning this lesson, he stressed, noting that developed and rich Member States had also opened new economic ties with China.
Still, the President of Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, cautioned that capitalism consolidated colonialism, while also giving rise to fascism, terrorism and apartheid. Spotlighting the disparities and inequities in the distribution of wealth, he pointed out that 46 per cent of the wealth was held by only 0.7 per cent of the world’s population. The production and consumption that accompanies capitalism promotes plundering and militarism, leaving poverty, hunger and preventable diseases to thrive. He also decried the United States continued blockade which has been a major obstacle to Cuba’s development, adding that it is the most comprehensive system of economic sanctions ever implemented against any nation.
President Juan Orlando Hernández Alvarado of Honduras pointed to a grave economic injustice that many participate in without giving much thought to. “How many of you drink a cup of coffee in the morning,” he asked world leaders. People in New York City pay as much as $5 or more for a cup of coffee while the producer of that commodity back in Honduras is unlikely to see even two cents of that. This perpetuates a cycle of extreme poverty in Honduras and many other countries. There are 90,000 coffee producers in Honduras, and 25 million worldwide, who rarely see a fraction of the profit their product makes. Honduras, together with its neighbours, is working to establish the Central American Customs Union to help facilitate fair trade. “Let us organize ourselves because apparently no one is looking out for the interests of small coffee producers,” he added.
The President of Nauru, Baron Divavesi Waqa, also underscored a crucial growth barrier his country faces every day, as he called on Member States to address the systemic bias within the United Nations. He shared his experience with trying to secure support from the Organization through a database that kept giving him an “error” message because it was not set up to process the modest number of schools and teachers of his island of 10,000 people. Private enterprises seek out the greatest profit centres and abandon those that underperform, he said, adding: “I dare say this logic has permeated the United Nations system.”
President João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço of Angola described the global split in which two antagonistic political and economic systems emerged after the establishment of the United Nations. That divide did not contribute to enforcing the principles in favour of peace and security. Despite the undoubted role that the United Nations has played in bringing colonialism to an end and boosting international development, old prevailing disputes remain, including the Israel‑Palestine conflict. However, he also acknowledged that the United Nations Angola Verification Mission (UNAVEM III) and the United Nations Observer Mission in Angola (MONUA) were decisive in the achievement of a long-lasting peace in his country. Angola’s experience of peacebuilding is one from which other regions of the world can draw useful conclusions, he said.
Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko also touched on a bipolar world split in ideology, recalling that just two decades ago the world seemed like it was headed in a solid direction. Now, the Russian Federation is punishing his country because it chose the free world and democratic values. He urged the United Nations to speak up for Ukraine’s rights as a sovereign nation. “Your silence is exactly what the Kremlin weaponizes against Ukraine and, ultimately, against all of us,” he said. Brutal actions must be rejected as illegal. “Moscow shall feel the strength of the rule of international law,” he continued. The thing about today’s Russia is that “they don’t care”, he said, adding that Moscow is careless about suffering, truth and the rule of law. “It is up to us to make them care,” he added.
Other leaders also praised the Organization’s efforts in establishing peace and security, with President George Manneh Weah of Liberia highlighting his country as a peacekeeping success story. The United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) made great sacrifices in the pursuit and maintenance of peace. Since the 2003 Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement, Liberia has experienced many peaceful years and his Government is now in charge of its own security since the recent withdrawal of UNMIL. “We must never take peace for granted or forget the long shadows of conflict on people’s lives,” he stressed.
One of the highlights of the all-day debate was from President Moon Jae‑In of the Republic of Korea, who announced that “the shadow of war” has been lifted from the Korean Peninsula, thanks to his work with Chairman Kim Jong Un, along with the historic summit between Washington, D.C., and Pyongyang. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had dismantled its nuclear test site in Punggye-ri, among other measures, and in the spirit of the Sentosa Agreement, the United States is taking corresponding measures. Although the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea joined the United Nations as separate members in 1991, both pledged at the time they would eventually become one through cooperation and peace. After 27 years, both are realizing that pledge. “Something miraculous” had taken place on the Korean Peninsula, he said.
Also speaking today were Heads of State and Government of Panama, Namibia, Estonia, Lebanon, Croatia, Yemen, Uruguay, Colombia, Tonga, Mali, Slovakia, Romania, United Kingdom, Afghanistan, Italy, Cabo Verde, Eswatini, Kenya, Kiribati, Zimbabwe, Poland, Portugal, El Salvador, Palau, Bolivia, Venezuela, Central African Republic, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Netherlands and Norway.
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of Azerbaijan and Armenia.
The General Assembly will reconvene at 9 a.m. on Thursday, 27 September, to continue its general debate.
JUAN CARLOS VARELA RODRÍGUEZ, President of Panama, highlighted the extensive progress made in his country towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, which was adopted as a State policy. By tackling corruption head-on, improving housing, access to education and potable water, in four years Panama, among other successes, was able to rebuild entire cities and bring 150,000 of its citizens out of poverty. As well, preventive health treatment programs were instituted in response to a national health census and the Panamanian education system is being transformed into one that is bilingual.
He also spotlighted the successful completion of the Canal expansion which illustrated his country’s permanent neutrality and openness to international trade. The Canal, an interoceanic route, was recovered by the Panamanians thanks to the treaties of the Panama Canal, and the decision of the former President of the United States, Jimmy Carter.
Noting that his country has welcomed tens of thousands of people looking for a better future, he brought attention to the plight of migrants in the region, notably the 100,000 Haitians who fled their country after the earthquake. Further, the lessons of the migratory crisis are a call to the Government of Venezuela to re-establish dialogue and democracy. Migratory movements can only be resolved by dealing with the root causes that compel these people to leave their country, underscoring his country’s participation in the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.
Warning that violations of human rights and fundamental liberties in Nicaragua could generate additional migration movements, he also called on that Government and the country’s social actors to renew the political dialogue and thereby find peace. As well, the United States should recognize the steps taken by Cuba to open its economy.
The political crisis in Venezuela, the increase in drug production in Colombia, the scourge of corruption, and the tense situation in Nicaragua require that countries in the region redouble their efforts to return to the path of social peace, he said. His country is committed, together with multilateral organizations, to work for a better world. Towards that end, the Regional Logistic Center for Humanitarian Assistance will be inaugurated in Panama. Concluding, he stressed that in the future, the question will not be “how power is obtained but how it is used for the benefit of the people”.
HAGE G. GEINGOB, President of Namibia, said that, since the end of the cold war, “the world has slowly drifted ever more worryingly towards unilateral action”. This development goes against one of the fundamental tenets of democracy upon which the United Nations is built. Democracy might have its flaws, he noted, but it is by far the best system, enabling the key values of the United Nations necessary for sustained inclusive development. It is for this reason that multilateralism must be embraced with greater urgency.
Namibia is founded upon the principles of democracy, the rule of law and justice, he continued. The fundamental rights and freedoms enshrined in its Constitution include virtually all the rights and freedoms recognized in international human rights instruments. However, these instruments in themselves are not sufficient to bring about sustainable development. There are emerging threats and challenges that continue to frustrate individual and collective efforts to achieve greater socio-economic progress.
As a dry and arid country, Namibia has stepped up its efforts to implement the Sustainable Development Goals in critical areas, such as energy, water and terrestrial ecosystems, he said. In July 2018, it presented its Voluntary National Review on the implementation of the Goals, its first opportunity on the world stage, to show progress made in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and complementing Agenda 2063 of the African Union, in pursuance of the “Africa We Want”.
However, communicable diseases threaten to jeopardize the attainment of the 2030 Agenda, he underscored. For this reason, he endorsed the call to end the tuberculosis endemic and reaffirmed his country’s commitment to unite with the world in achieving this goal. His Government has demonstrated its commitment to address tuberculosis by including related targets in its fifth National Development Plan, as well as by ensuring that 70 per cent of available funding for tuberculosis comes from domestic resources. However, inadequate human and financial resources, high levels of poverty, and lack of public health services in rural areas remain a concern.
He emphasized that excluding women from certain spheres of life is to waste skills and expertise that can contribute to sustainable development. He applauded the United Nations Secretary-General for exercising leadership and reaching gender parity among senior management and resident coordinators. Namibia is also fully committed to implementing gender equality, as evident in the important role that women play in the country’s politics where they are equally represented in the Executive and Legislature. He also noted that during the darkest days of his country’s fight for independence, the Government and people of Cuba came to its aid. It is in the spirit of profound kinship Namibia shares with that country that he renewed the call for the lifting of the decades old, outdated, ineffective and counterproductive economic and financial embargo of Cuba.
NANA ADDO DANKWA AKUFO-ADDO, President of Ghana, said that Kofi Annan’s passionate and profound belief in the United Nations and his certainty that a better organized and stronger Organization would make the world a better place is an ideal that should not be allowed to die. The international community continues to be faced with the stark reality that resolutions, norms and any number of votes in the Security Council and General Assembly mean nothing without the political will to enforce them.
When nations gathered in San Francisco 73 years ago and signed the landmark document that created the United Nations, it was a very different world than that which exists today, he continued. Ten years ago, as the General Assembly was starting its proceedings, the world was plunged into a financial crisis. The consequences were felt around the world, including in small countries like Ghana. Those events provide proof that the world is an interdependent world.
He noted that 55 per cent of the work of the Security Council in 2017 had to do with Africa. Unfortunately this invariably meant peacekeeping and poverty‑related issues. Africa no longer wants to be the place that requires peacekeepers and poverty-fighting non-governmental organizations, no matter how noble their motives. Regional bodies like the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union are making systematic efforts to bring peace and stability to the entire continent. Ghana, like many countries in Africa, is forging relations with China to address part of the infrastructure deficit.
This is not a uniquely Ghanaian or African phenomenon, he pointed out. Developed, rich and well-established countries have been paying regular visits to China, seeking to open new economic ties and improve upon existing ones. A lot of anxiety is being expressed about the possibility of a recolonization of the African continent by a new power. However, at the turn of the twentieth century, China’s first railroads were built by western companies and financed by western loans to a nearly bankrupt Qing Dynasty. It was under those circumstances that the port of Hong Kong was leased for 99 years. The rest is history. That former victim of western railway imperialism is lending billions to countries throughout Asia, Africa and Europe to construct railroads, highways, ports, power plants and other infrastructure.
Ghana must build roads, bridges, railways, ports, schools and hospitals and must create jobs to keep young people engaged, he said. It is obvious that the development trajectory Africa is on is not working. A different one is being tried and he called upon the international community to help stem the huge flows of illicit funds from the continent. It is in everyone’s interest that Africa make a rapid transformation from poverty to prosperity.
KERSTI KALJULAID, President of Estonia, noting that her country is running for a seat at the United Nations Security Council, said that: “Small countries have no time for small objectives. Our aim is, among other issues, to bring all things digital to the United Nations and Security Council.” Cyber risks are something Estonians as citizens of a fully digitized State understand better than most and her country can offer a perspective to make sure that human beings remain safe.
In the heart of Europe, ongoing military aggression in eastern Ukraine continues, she said. Parts of Georgia and the Crimean peninsula remain occupied. There is no resolution of the conflicts in Africa. While her country contributes humanitarian aid, practical assistance and peacekeepers, it often feels like it is never enough. Estonia reached an agreement on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, but such an accord needs implementation or else it is hollow. The same applies to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. “We are still not dealing with root causes,” she said.
In terms of efficiency, she noted the importance of truly effective multilateralism, and due to its inclusiveness, this Organization holds great legitimacy. On Security Council reform, there needs to be more space for common ground, with people and States, both big and small, feeling that the Security Council acts in their best interests. For too often, the Council has fallen victim to internal differences and clumsy procedures. It is critical that the Council not be rendered powerless, especially when mass atrocities are being committed.
Information and communications technology can revolutionize entrepreneurship, education, employment and healthcare, she noted. Digital online services provide economic growth and bring down barriers between citizens and the State. New technologies should be seen as enablers, creating new opportunities if supported by proper policies. However, no new technology can thrive in a fragmented world. Now more than ever, global free trade as an essential element of fostering long‑term development and growth is needed.
Because, now more than ever, the international community is connected and dependent of each other, it cannot afford to be self-centred or ignorant, she emphasized, adding that “we all need to see the bigger picture”. Such empathy can be translated into efficiency if there is a desire to get things done, and although words are important, they need to be followed by concrete actions. “We have equal responsibility to be more proactive in preventing and solving the challenges of our times,” she said.
MICHEL AOUN, President of Lebanon, said that the United Nations must be the conscience of the world and achieve justice and maintain peace. However, on many occasions the Security Council has been unable to adopt critical resolutions for certain countries due to the veto right. Some countries are not implementing the Council’s resolutions, even if those resolutions are binding and immediate. For instance, Security Council resolution 425 (1978) called on Israel to immediately withdraw its troops from the territory of Lebanon. That resolution was only implemented after several decades.
Another resolution adopted by the General Assembly in 1948 called for the return of Palestinian refugees to their homeland as soon as possible, he continued. That resolution remains unimplemented to this day. The veto right has many reasons for its existence. However, the use of that right has had a negative impact on people around the world. Therefore, for the United Nations to have an international leadership that is relevant for all, it must be reformed in a way that takes into consideration the expansion of the Security Council and the increase of its membership.
It is also important for the General Assembly to reflect the tendencies of the international community, he said. The United Nations is also called to enhance human rights around the world. Having contributed significantly to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Lebanon has committed to those rights in the introduction and preamble to its Constitution. Its Parliament put forward a law on human rights that included the establishment of a committee that will look into allegations of torture and mistreatment.
Lebanon is trying to mitigate the effects of conflict, he noted. It was able to eradicate terrorist groups in the rural areas to its north, as well as sleeper cells. It held parliamentary elections in accordance with a law that took into account population percentages and was reflective of all the components of Lebanese society. However, it is still facing the consequences of what is happening in Syria. There has been an influx of individuals taking refuge in Lebanon and his country is trying to provide a decent life for those individuals. Yet, the number of Syrians in Lebanon is rising and it is affecting Lebanese communities, notably with an increase in the levels of crime and unemployment.
He referred to a 2014 map issued by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which shows the increase in the number of Syrian displaced persons from 25,000 in 2012 to more than 1 million in 2014. He pointed out that in 2014 the United Nations stopped counting the numbers of displaced Syrians. There are currently over 1.5 million Syrians in Lebanon. Lebanon seeks to enhance the right for the safe, sustainable return of Syrians to their country without any delay. However, it should not be linked to any political settlement when no one knows when that settlement will be reached, he said, adding that, while he rejects the idea of a nationalization project, he welcomes initiatives to address the displacement problem.
KOLINDA GRABAR-KITAROVIĆ, President of Croatia, said her country’s football team competing in the FIFA World Cup final united the world with accolades from around the globe that expressed a common aspiration for excellence. Croatia, not big in size, population or economic means, showed that success is achieved through teamwork. Likewise, members of the United Nations must act as a team to maintain its relevance and effectiveness in the face of various global challenges.
Highlighting Croatia’s fifth year of membership in the European Union, she underscored how her country was a telling example of the transformational force of being in that bloc, adding that freedom and prosperity have become standards, not just mere ideals. She expressed strong support for further European Union enlargement to her country’s southeastern neighbours, while cautioning against the long‑lasting damage caused by inflammatory and revisionist rhetoric used to address short‑term domestic political needs.
There is a risk of legal uncertainty and political and institutional instability in Bosnia and Herzegovina after the upcoming October elections, she stated, adding that this is due to the failure to amend the electoral framework to fully respect the rights and equality of the three constituent peoples — Bosnians, Croats and Serbs in line with the Constitutional Court decision on the legitimate and proportionate representation of constituent peoples at all levels of Government, including the Presidency.
While acknowledging the Belgrade‑Pristina dialogue must be completed by the two concerned parties, she warned against proposals with potential regional implications, notably territorial modifications or exchanges. Opening the “Pandora’s Box of potential new territorial claims” could generate serious instability and security threats, she added.
Recalling that no country can shield itself from the consequences of climate change, she said that, with over one thousand islands, islets and reefs, Croatia may soon be exposed to the danger of rising sea levels. While stressing the need of balanced United Nations reforms, she welcomed the results and trajectories established in 2018. “Multilateralism starts from our own homes and in our own minds,” she said, adding that “it must be our daily routine”.
ABDRABUH MANSOUR HADI MANSOUR, President of Yemen, said that his country is still in the grips of war imposed by armed militias supported by Iran and Hizbullah. These militias are extremists that employ gangster‑like tactics, including blowing up houses and places of worship, and recruiting children by force. His Government strives to restore peace, security and stability, provide services and create a democratic State where human rights and the dignity of women and youth are respected, based on the National Dialogue Conference and in accordance with various Security Council resolutions.
Yet, the predicament faced by Yemen is not a political conflict that can be contained by dialogue, he said. Certain factions have torn down Yemen society and sowed hate. Nationally, they are a proxy that is beholden to Iran and Hezbollah. He called on the international community to bring pressure to bear on Iran so that it halts intervention in Yemen. That country is financing the Huthi militia and provides it with weapons, missiles and experts and jeopardizes international shipping routes, overwhelming the country with the illicit trafficking of drugs. The Yemeni Government’s high-level delegation to Geneva was keen to take any opportunity to ensure benefits that would alleviate the suffering. However, the intransigence of the Huthi militia has disappointed Yemenis regarding any progress that could be made.
Yemen is fully ready for a sustainable peace based on national, regional and international terms of reference, he said, adding that it is not an advocate for war and vengeance. The State should be restored and the coup ended. But peace cannot be obtained by cajoling gangsters as some Member States do, rather by implementing international resolutions. Member States should abide by Security Council resolution 2216 (2015), which calls on the Huthis to withdraw and hand over their weapons. He called on the Security Council to act resolutely in implementing its resolution to ensure a political transition in Yemen.
He then underlined his Government’s efforts to protect civilians, especially women and children. The Government has instructed the various units of its army not to recruit children, but rather strive to protect them and to rehabilitate those that have been detained while in the ranks of the rebels. The economic hardship felt by Yemen is due to the militias that have wasted resources and reserves. In the face of that, and to stop the continued deterioration, the Government has introduced measures, including the setting up of an economic commission which has been authorized to take all measures to stop the deterioration of the currency.
Despite limited resources, Yemen continues to participate in the fight against terrorism and the Government will not step back from any measures that would counter the financing of terrorism and money laundering, he stated. In the twenty-first century, the rule of the mullahs could no longer be accepted, as represented by the Huthi militias that want to see a return to the dark days of despotism. His country would continue to strive and leave no stone unturned to restore peace and security. He offered his thanks to the Government of Saudi Arabia, which had played a key role in alleviating the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, and also added his thanks to humanitarian organizations in the Arab coalition countries and various United Nations bodies for their exceptional humanitarian efforts.
TABARÉ VÁZQUEZ, President of Uruguay, said the criteria and methodology used by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to qualify countries’ development based on their per capita income imposes “severe injustice”. Pointing out that Uruguay has been considered a high-income country since 2013 and will no longer qualify for official development aid, he stressed that although growth and development are linked, they are different.
While Uruguay has enjoyed economic growth that has lifted thousands of its citizens out of poverty, structural gaps persist, he stated, adding that “development in transition” is not a random concept but rather an apt description of the situation of countries like his — on the path to development and still in need of cooperation to accompany them. “It’s paradoxical. It seems as if we are punishing those who do things well. I hope the criteria will be reviewed soon,” he said.
Invoking the irrevocable responsibility to fight for the Uruguayan people, he said his country has implemented strict control policies for tobacco consumption and measures to prevent non-communicable diseases. Still there is much to be done to combat tobacco, which kills more than 7 million people every year. He called on all countries to put in place the measures set forth by the World Health Organization to combat this scourge.
He reaffirmed his country’s historic commitment to an international system that is more participatory, fair, balanced and multipolar. “Today we see the world almost as if it were an asylum run by the insane,” he said. In such a turbulent international context, the international community must reaffirm its values and principles, he stated, calling upon those present today to finance and modernize the global system. In that spirit, his country would put forward its candidacy for the Human Rights Council for the years 2019 to 2021. “Uruguay’s vocation is pacifist, based on solidarity and committed to world peace and security,” he said.
The environment and the consequences of climate change constitute a priority for the entire world, he stated, adding that it’s “everyone’s fight, the fight for life”. He urged the most powerful world leaders to respect the international agreement to protect the environment and called for proactive measures to protect all — especially the poorest — from the consequences of climate change. Reiterating his commitment to the Paris Agreement, he recalled that “agreements are signed to be implemented”.
IVÁN DUQUE MÁRQUEZ, President of Colombia, describing himself as part of a new generation of Colombians, said that his country today was uniting around shared objectives. Such efforts, which have earned the respect of the world and international investment, are building a path of progress with democratic institutions. Economic growth is being maintained in the midst of complex regional volatilities, with cities transforming into productive sectors and the middle class expanding. While rising to the challenges of globalization the Government is also focusing on social justice and bridging social gaps. Towards that end, a plan is being developed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
Stressing that peace requires the rule of law, he said his Government will work towards completing the disarmament and reinsertion process that began some years back. The peace process his Government inherited was fragile due to a lack of funds and the complex and dispersed institutional architecture, but Colombia will fulfill its commitment vis‑à‑vis those who chose to turn away from violence. Financial support of the international community will ensure that goal. The law will be enforced in an exemplary manner, he stated, adding that those who mock the victims and the generosity of the Colombian people will feel the full weight of justice.
“For peace to shine in Colombia, we must overturn drug trafficking,” he said. Noting that the recent incremental trafficking increase has become a fuel for organized crime, he expressed his will to break up the transnational crime networks. Acknowledging that prevention is critical from a public health approach, he also stressed that the drug traffickers were predators. Recently, his Government joined the global call to action on the world drug problem, recognizing that all countries must contribute. “We will not accept as our destiny the addiction of so many youth,” he stated.
He also stressed the importance of tackling corruption in a determined manner, as it is threat to democracy, social values and institutions. “From the first day of our Government, we presented measures before Congress”, launching an ambitious initiative supported nationwide. He also called for the international community to strengthen the sanction instruments and mechanisms to fight transnational corruption. No efforts should be spared to expedite the judiciary processes and sanctions in that regard.
Drawing attention to the situation of Venezuelans fleeing their country, he stressed that Colombia has opened its doors to close to a million of them. The humanitarian crisis in the region was caused by a “dictatorship that annihilates liberties”, he said. The international community must immediately demand the liberation of political prisoners, he continued, calling for the use of all international mechanisms to denounce, investigate and sanction those responsible for that situation.
TUPOU VI, King of Tonga, said that he appreciated the work done by the United Nations Secretary-General on reform, including the all-important review of the United Nations multi-country offices in the Pacific Islands region. In contributing towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, including through the internationally agreed blueprint for the sustainable development of small‑island developing States and the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action Pathway, known as the Samoa Pathway, Tonga has made these agreements an integral part of its national planning processes.
The high-level political forum remains an important means endorsed by his country for the follow-up, monitoring and accountability of commitment of Member States, he said, noting that their voluntary national reviews are linked to the 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. Tonga looked forward to presenting its first voluntary national review to the forum in 2019. The forum will also dedicate a day at its high-level ministerial segment to the midterm review of the Samoa Pathway in 2019.
His country also welcomed the convening of the third High-level Meeting on the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases, he said, noting that combatting the threat of such diseases has been recognized as grossly underfunded. In Tonga, people are eating healthier food and involved in more physical activities. However, the country is not without challenges, including, among others, a rising rate of obesity. The Government is addressing the issue by making unhealthy food choices more expensive and healthy foods cheaper for the Tongan people.
Climate change continues to pose significant threats to island States, he said. Earlier in September, Pacific leaders in Nauru endorsed an expanded concept of security in their communiqué and the Boe Declaration linking, inter alia, climate change and threats to international peace and security. He welcomed the establishment of the Group of Friends on Climate and Security to further highlight the nexus between the threats of climate change with threats to international peace and security. Baselines that determine territorial boundaries should not be affected and should remain unchanged despite the effects of sea level rise. National sovereignty must not be compromised by climate change, he said, noting that he welcomed the work of the International Law Commission on this critical issue for the consideration of the Sixth Committee of the General Assembly.
Tonga commissioned its first independent power producer-owned solar farm in 2018, he said. His Government strongly believes that it can achieve its 2020 renewable energy target through stronger and increased public-private partnership arrangements. He also acknowledged the partnership established with the Government of Austria, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, and the Pacific Community to establish the Pacific Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency. This is a specialized regional entity to support private sector investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency in the Pacific Islands. The Government of Norway has committed to providing $2 million in support of the Centre’s work.
Sustainable development can only be realized through international peace and security, he said. His Government looks to the Security Council to protect the innocent from threats to international peace and security in whatever form, be they traditional threats such as armed conflict, or newer threats like climate change, to ensure no one is left behind.
IBRAHIM BOUBACAR KEITA, President of Mali, paid tribute to the men and women of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) for the commitment and sacrifice in a security context which is complex and difficult. Underlining the collective responsibility to do more and to do better in order to render the Organization more relevant and efficient for all, he welcomed the reforms undertaken by the Secretary‑General in the sphere of development, peace and security. In addition to these initiatives, the composition and working methods of key bodies of the United Nations, notably the Security Council and the General Assembly, also need to be reformed to better protect future generations from the scourge of war.
He recalled that, in spite of all the challenges it faces, Mali recently held elections within constitutional timelines. This inclusive process enabled citizens to express freely their choices and proved the political, democratic and republican maturity of the Malian people. He said he was going to work relentlessly to implement the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali emanating from the Algiers process. He also reiterated his steadfast commitment to dialogue and concertation in the management of public affairs and underscored the lack of confrontation and clashes between the Malian army and the armed groups since the signing of the accord in May and June 2015.
The Malian administration has returned to Kidal and other regions of the country, he noted, adding that this allowed for the opening of classrooms and the provision of basic social services in regions affected by the conflict. However, political will alone is not sufficient to achieve all the commitments set out in the Agreement. Stressing the need for technical and financial support, he appealed for the resources pledged by Mali’s partners to be mobilized in order to uphold the commitments set forth in the roadmap. “The Malian people very much appreciate the solidarity provided by the international community through the presence and support of MINUSMA, the Barkhane French forces, G‑5 Sahel [Group of Five for the Sahel], African Union, ECOWAS and neighbouring countries,” he said.
The Sahel still faces terrorism, transnational crimes and various forms of trafficking, and the G‑5 Sahel was set up in 2014 in Nouakchott to combat these threats, he recalled. Yet, he continued, “the joint G‑5 Sahel force is struggling to be operational because it lacks an appropriate mandate and, above all, appropriate funding”. Expressing the view that combating terrorism in Sahel is a significant contribution to international security, he reiterated his call for the Security Council to authorize the deployment of this force under Chapter 7. He further called on multilateral partners to honour their commitment to the G‑5 Sahel force.
Turning to other regional issues, he welcomed the normalization of diplomatic relations between Ethiopia and Eritrea and the conclusion of a peace agreement in South Sudan and expressed his appreciation for the recent legislative elections in Mauritania. He expressed concern about the situation in Libya that negatively impacts the security and stability of the Sahel region. In light of this situation, he called on the international community to bring the Libyan parties to foster dialogue and seek sustainable solutions to the crisis. He also reaffirmed his country’s support for the Palestinian people in “its legitimate struggle to achieve self-determination”, and called on Israelis and Palestinians to resume negotiation with a view to setting up a two‑State solution in peace and within internationally recognized safe borders.
JOÃO MANUEL GONÇALVES LOURENÇO, President of Angola, said that the role of the United Nations was decisive for the achievement of a long‑lasting peace in Angola through the United Nations Angola Verification Mission (UNAVEM III) and United Nations Observer Mission in Angola (MONUA) peace missions, and also commended the work undertaken by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP). Angola’s experience in peacebuilding and reconciliation between the warring forces has been a positive example for the United Nations, in the sense that it has allowed for the drawing of useful conclusions on how to approach peace processes in other regions of the world.
It is at the United Nations where the best solutions can be found to the current, serious problems and conflicts that may hinder the survival of humanity itself, and are discussed and resolved, he continued. Those include hunger and misery that affect millions of citizens around the world, as well as global warming and its consequences, mass migrations, trafficking in narcotics, human trafficking, religious intolerance and extremism, and the uncontrolled proliferation of nuclear weapons, among other issues. The United Nations is still far from achieving the goals enshrined in its Charter.
He underscored that, while it is true that, after the establishment of the United Nations, the bipolarization of the planet into two antagonistic political and economic systems did not contribute to the easy enforcement of principles that work in favour of international peace and security. However, it would be unfair to deny that the United Nations has played an important role in bringing colonialism to an end, promoting human rights, boosting international development and cooperation, and the management and control of the hotspots of instability worldwide.
Despite the progress made so far, the old prevailing conflicts yet to be solved need to be acknowledged, he noted. Those include the Israel‑Palestine conflict in the Middle East, the resolution of which will only be achieved through a solution based on two States living side by side peacefully, as advocated by the United Nations and the overwhelming majority of its Member States. He welcomed the endeavours that had been made by the United States, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea, with the contribution of China, towards the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. This has considerably eased tensions.
With the end of the so‑called cold war, there was a momentary emergence of a new political paradigm oriented towards multilateralism, he said. Today, in a time of ever‑increasing globalization, there is no justification for the continued proliferation of conflicts apparently without a solution, with entire populations suffering from their tragic consequences. There have been many voices demanding profound reforms inside the United Nations, including the enlargement and reform of the Security Council. Such changes would ensure better representation of the different geopolitical regions of the planet.
MIGUEL DÍAZ-CANEL BERMÚDEZ, President of Cuba, recalled historic moments of the General Assembly where Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Raúl Castro, and the “Chancellor of Dignity”, Raúl Roa, all brought not only the voice of Cuba but the voice of Latin American, Caribbean, African, Asian, and all non-aligned people struggling for a fair international order. Pointing out that the richest 0.7 per cent of the population owns 46 per cent of all the wealth, and still 3.460 billion people survive in poverty, he underscored that such realities are not the result of socialism, as the President of the United States said yesterday. “They are the consequence of capitalism, especially imperialism and neoliberalism, of the selfishness and exclusion that is inherent to that system,” he declared.
He noted that capitalism consolidated colonialism, gave birth to fascism, terrorism and apartheid, and spread war. Production and consumption patterns that characterize capitalism promote plundering and militarism and are threats to peace. They also generate violations of human rights. “No one should be deceived by anybody claiming that humanity lacks enough material, financial or technological resources to eradicate poverty, hunger, preventable diseases and other scourges,” he stated. What is lacking is the political will of industrialized countries. While there are claims of a shortfall in funding to attain the targets of the 2030 Agenda, $1.74 trillion were wasted in military expenditures in 2017.
Climate change is another unavoidable reality, he said, adding that the United States is one of the major polluters of yesteryear and today, refusing to implement the Paris Agreement and continuing to endanger the lives of future generations and the survival of humans. In addition, military and nuclear hegemony is expanding despite the hopes of the majority for complete disarmament. The international cooperation for the promotion of human rights for all is a must.
He went on to say that the current United States administration is attacking Venezuela with special cruelty, reiterating his country’s support for the Bolivarian and Chavista Revolution, the civic-military union of the Venezuelan people. He also denounced the attempts at destabilizing the Nicaraguan Government and the politically motivated imprisonment of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. He voiced support for the independence of Puerto Rico and Argentina’s legitimate sovereignty claim over the Malvinas* Islands. He also reiterated his call for a just and lasting solution to the Israeli‑Palestinian conflict and reaffirmed solidarity with the Saharan people. Noting the continued expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) towards the Russian Federation border, he rejected the imposition of arbitrary sanctions.
He also pointed out that the new United States Government was devoting itself to artificially fabricating scenarios of tension; such actions are in contrast with formal diplomatic relations in several areas – historic and cultural bonds, which are expressed in arts, sports, science and the environment. “However the essential and defining element of the bilateral relationship continues to be the blockade, which seeks to suffocate the Cuban economy,” he said, adding that it is the most comprehensive system of economic sanctions ever implemented against any nation and continues to be a major obstacle to his country’s development. He also noted that the actions of the United States Government against Cuba includes public and overt programs of gross interference in Cuba’s internal affairs. However, Cuba stands ready to develop respectful and civilized relations with that Government on the basis of sovereign equality and will always be willing to engage in dialogue.
GEORGE MANNEH WEAH, President of Liberia, hailed Ms. Espinosa’s successful election, noting that she is one of four women to hold the Presidency of the General Assembly. Paying tribute to the late Kofi Annan, he said Africa lost one of its most illustrious sons and the world one of its most outstanding diplomats. On his country’s newly democratically elected Government, he stressed that Liberians voted for “a Change for Hope” and a paradigm shift towards youthful leadership, change and transformation as a first in 73 years.
Adopting the Pro-Poor Agenda for Development and Prosperity, he pointed out that this will benefit not just the poor, but all Liberians. It is a policy framework for alleviating poverty and reducing the marginalization of the most vulnerable while being conducive for the middle and upper-income Liberians to grow and prosper. Intending to build a harmonious society, he called on friends, partners and private investors to support the efforts of the Pro-Poor Agenda in giving power to the people, promoting economic diversification, protecting sustainable peace and encouraging good governance.
He deplored the vulnerability of the youth in his country who lack access to high quality education and employment opportunities, adding that he plans to make them productive citizens by providing adequate educational facilities at high school and college levels. He also recalled the Technical Vocational Education and Training programmes for the youth left behind due to the disastrous civil crisis. To connect cities and towns and to power Liberia’s economy, he highlighted much needed investments in roads, energy and ports and called therefore for funding and technical expertise.
Because agriculture is another key priority in alleviating poverty, focus is now on improving self-sufficiency in food production and self-employment, he continued. Liberia also intends to attract labour-intensive light manufacturing by implementing a new Special Economic Zone law. He noted that due to the results of the 2014 Ebola Epidemic costing thousands of Liberians’ and health workers’ lives, he plans to better organize the healthcare delivery system to improve the wellbeing of his people.
Concerning national security and peace, he stressed that his Government is in charge of its own security due to the recent withdrawal of the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). He thanked the Mission for its sacrifices in securing and maintaining peace. He also expressed his deep gratitude to Farid Zarif of Afghanistan, Special Representative for Liberia and the last Head of UNMIL. Liberia is a peacekeeping success story, he said, pointing to the many peaceful years following years of war that were guided by the 2003 Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement. “We must never take peace for granted or forget the long shadows of conflicts on people’s lives,” he underlined, pointing to the National Peace Dialogues to be initiated.
ANDREJ KISKA, President of Slovakia, said “we are more often driven by selfishness and short-term interests,” noting that globalization has created unprecedented wealth, but inequality is dividing the planet. Economic figures might be positive, but they hardly translate into improved well-being and dignity. Technology continues to be developed, but the distance and gap in understanding and empathy towards other cultures is still huge. Thanks to innovation, the world has never been smaller, but what happens thousands of kilometres away can turn into a global problem in a matter of minutes. In this situation, the United Nations plays an irreplaceable role.
Expressing that rules and their enforcement must remain a backbone of the Organization, he said that today it seems that ignoring them is a sign of strength. The number of armed conflicts has increased, and civilian casualties have risen. Sovereignty is the DNA of stability, but the occupation of Georgia and Ukraine and the destabilization in the region are examples that the respect of rules is being replaced by power politics. Too often, thousands of civilians are massacred by their very own regimes. The world has become immune and has stopped counting the innocent lives in Syria, Yemen, Palestine, Myanmar and South Sudan. Agreeing that weapons of mass destruction are unacceptable, any use of chemical weapons must be an automatic trigger for resolute actions.
Turning to issues of technology, he expressed concern about malicious activities in cyberspace, and manipulation in social media, that undermine democracy. Cyberspace knows no borders — and it is used to manipulate elections, influence decisions, and sneak into computers. It is as dangerous as any conventional threats. The price of inaction may soon be very high.
Also of great concern, he said, was the increased attacks on journalists, attempts to eliminate the freedom of the press and growing restrictions on civil societies. Sadly, last year dozens of journalists were killed. Hundreds have been imprisoned and thousands oppressed. “The climate of hate continues to spread, portraying them as enemies of the State, as the enemies of nation or faith. But they play a key role in our mission for a better world, and as such they must be protected,” he said.
MOON JAE-IN, President of the Republic of Korea, declared that “something miraculous” had taken place on the Korean Peninsula. For the first time in history, the leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea crossed the Military Demarcation Line to visit Panmunjeom. A historic summit between the United States and that country was also held on the Sentosa Island in Singapore. He noted that he had worked with Chairman Kim Jong Un to remove “the shadow of war” and resolved to usher in an era of peace and security. At the summit, the two sides agreed to work towards achieving complete denuclearization on the Peninsula, ending hostile relations and establishing a permanent peace. President Donald J. Trump and Chairman Kim gave hope to those who desire peace around the world.
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea dismantled its nuclear test site in Punggye-ri under the observation of the international community, he noted. The United States and the Republic of Korea suspended large-scale joint military exercises and built trust. Last week in Pyongyang, he met Chairman Kim for the third time and reached an agreement once again to turn the Peninsula into a land of peace, free from nuclear weapons and threats. Chairman Kim also expressed his commitment to permanently dismantle the missile engine test site and launch platform in Dongchang-ri under the observation of the international community. He also expressed his willingness to continue to take additional denuclearization measures, including the permanent dismantlement of nuclear facilities in Yongbyon as the United States takes corresponding measures in the spirit of the Sentosa Agreement. This was just the beginning, he underscored, and he asked for the continued support and cooperation of Member States on the journey towards complete denuclearization and permanent peace.
It is now the international community’s turn to respond positively to the new choice and efforts of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said. Chairman Kim must be assured that he has made the right decision in committing to denuclearization. The role of the United Nations is crucial, and the Secretariat has continued its efforts for dialogue and engagement, including the invitation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea colleagues to international conferences.
The process of working towards denuclearization and establishing peace on the Peninsula is a process that also builds peace and cooperation in North‑East Asia, he said. That region is home to one fifth of the world’s population and a quarter of the global economy. However, regional conflicts stand in the way of pursuing broader cooperation. Work will begin on resolving conflicts in North‑East Asia, starting from the Korean Peninsula. On 15 August, he proposed the creation of an East Asian Railroad Community, which would involve six North‑East Asian countries and the United States. The European Coal and Steel Community, which gave birth to the creation of the European Union, is a living example of what this kind of initiative can achieve. The Community will be able to serve as a starting point for the creation of an energy and economic community, and lead to a multilateral peace and security architecture in North‑East Asia.
In September, his Government announced its vision of an “inclusive nation” based on a people‑centric governing philosophy, he said. It also increased its financial aid for refugees five times in the last five years. Starting in 2018, it is providing 50,000 tons of rice every year to developing countries suffering from severe food crises. It is also working to realize gender equality in a tangible way, ensuring that violence against women is dealt with severely. The Republic of Korea witnessed first-hand the experience of comfort women, who were victims of the suffering inflicted by the Japanese military, he said, adding that his Government will actively participate in discussions among the international community on women, peace and security.
The significance of the United Nations goes beyond any international organization, he said, noting that on 17 September 1991, all 159 Member States unanimously adopted the resolution for joint accession by the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the Organization. The representatives of both pledged that although they would start as separate members, they would eventually become one through reconciliation, cooperation and peace. After 27 years, both are realizing the pledge they made that day and are proving to the international community that when they come together, they have the means to establish peace.
KLAUS WERNER IOHANNIS, President of Romania, noted the reasons the United Nations has to celebrate this year, as both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Law Commission turns 70 years old. “These anniversaries are a reminder of our political determination to stand up for our fundamental rights and law,” he said.
In addition, Romania adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, he said, will host a regional conference on the 2030 Agenda, where countries will share lessons learned. In addition, the Global Compacts on Refugees and on Regular Migration will generate a common approach on migration and displaced persons at a global level. The United Nations Global Counterterrorism Strategy remains paramount. “We can do more,” he said, adding that the next months will be decisive for United Nations reform.
As the next President of the European Union Council in the first half of 2019, Romania will work with determination to strengthen that bloc’s partnership with the United Nations. Speaking about the need for engagement, he noted that, “we have to reach out to our younger people, representatives of the civil society, journalists, and business people”.
He also highlighted Romania’s run for a non-permanent seat in the Security Council for the 2020‑2021 term. That chamber could play a more prominent role in addressing more factors that impact peace and security, such as climate change. On that note, he said that, ahead of the preparation of the Secretary‑General’s climate summit next year, Romania will host an international conference on building resilience to natural disasters, which is a platform to exchange views on how to assess and address more effectively climate-related security risks.
THERESA MAY, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, noted progress in the world, including the number of people in poverty halved and the fact that today millions lead healthier lives. Yet, today, many are concerned whether this future will continue, especially as the cold war’s end has not led to liberal democracies for the common good. “We face a loss of confidence in those systems,” she said, adding that the belief in free markets was challenged by the financial crisis of 2008, as well as other issues such as the mass movement of people across borders.
These doubts are understandable, as is the need for leadership, she noted, adding that “we have a duty to respond”. If world leaders lack the confidence to step up, others will instead. Spotlighting fascism, she said the world has witnessed a rise of such movements and the results when countries slide into authoritarianism and oligarchs rule. The Russian Federation’s breaching of international norms is evidence of this, she said, noting the use of chemical weapons by agents of the GRU [Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation].
The international community needs to show there is a better way, based on inclusive societies, she urged, stressing that delivering for citizens at home did not have to be at the expense of global cooperation. “It is only global cooperation that can harness legitimate self-interests,” she said. Through the United Nations there is a shared commitment within a rules-based international system and this commitment takes into account small vulnerable economies and benefits all citizens. However, “we need action to show how we can deliver and we must recognize the legitimacy of concerns. We must invest in building open societies and must stand up for our values for those who may suffer,” she said.
Outlining a series of priorities, she said that the international community must respond to those who think the global economy has left them behind, and must make the economy work for all people. Fair rules on trade and tax are needed; this includes giving the World Trade Organization (WTO) a mandate for reform. Fair and respected rules can drive growth. Second, she noted economies must be built that are inclusive and where every citizen has a stake. History has consistently demonstrated that giving everyone at stake ensures security.
In addition, she called for an end to hate speech against minorities; and defended the media, a bedrock and a great achievement. This challenge is great because disinformation is great. There is also a need to reclaim the internet from terrorists and others who do harm. Calling for a renewal of the ideals of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, she added that open economies that are inclusive can deliver security and safety. Citing Kofi Annan she said: “Let us show unflinching resolve. Let us ensure the promise fulfilled for every generation to come.”
ABDULLAH ABDULLAH, Chief Executive of Afghanistan, recalled that no one escapes the ripple effects of the global, national, communal and human connectivities that bind them through climate, international finance or cyber and technology arenas. It is regrettable that there is no globally and officially acceptable definition for “terrorism”, which he described as a nefarious phenomenon used by rogue or politically-connected, criminal, State or non-State actors using religious, ideological, economic or psychological cover to disrupt the status quo and upend the global and nation-State order. Underlining that no religion in its undistorted form condones the sheer use of indiscriminate violence to reach radical goals, he added that he is determined to fight newer versions of terror in the form of remnants of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS/Da’esh) inside Afghanistan. “We are still trying to figure out how to render terrorism impotent as a policy tool,” he said.
He deplored the loss of tens of thousands of innocent lives and major infrastructural damage during the last 25 years due to geography and short‑sighted strategies and regional agendas, among other challenges. Noting the call to neighbouring countries like Pakistan to help targeted societies to deal with the menace, he pointed to the timely and effective implementation of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity. The implementation of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy must be balanced and non-compliance seriously addressed. He pointed to the unprecedented overtures to the Taliban as a part of a credible Afghan‑owned and ‑led peace process. To bring about peace and to protect Afghans’ gains and achievement, such as constitutional order, freedom of expression and human and gender rights, a dual approach is needed.
On the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections, he said that their political legitimacy derives from the will of the people and that the electoral process must be trustworthy, in the hopes of agreeing to a fairly credible and legitimate outcome. The humanitarian challenges like the impending drought, refugee resettlement and internal displacement, food insecurities and security threats will impact about two thirds of the country and the livelihoods of more than 4 million people, he said, urging the international community to fully fund the Afghanistan Humanitarian Response Plan 2018‑2021.
Welcoming and supporting the reform efforts of the United Nations, he said that the creation of the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs as well as the formation of the Office of Counter-Terrorism is a welcome move. He is also looking forward to the enhancement of the achievements in the formation of One UN for Afghanistan and he welcomed the Chairmanship of the Third Committee during the seventy-third session, aiming to initiate and adopt resolutions concerning victims of terrorism and threats of improvised explosive devices, refugee and migrant crises, rights of children, women’s empowerment, human rights and social development.
He also noted the adoption of national legislation prohibiting cruel and degrading treatment, adding he endorsed the Law Inhibiting Torture, on Combating Human and Migrants Trafficking and Prohibition of Children Recruitment in their Security Forces. A bold concept forming a new visionary paradigm for Afghanistan and the region will help to end four decades of conflict. His country will thusly enter a new phase, free from violence and forced implementation of stagnant ideas.
GIUSEPPE CONTE, President of the Council of Ministers of Italy, said that, in a global context which is increasingly fragmented, multipolar and in constant evolution, the international community needs more effective multilateralism and a United Nations that is strengthened in its role as a pillar of an system based on peace, justice and equity. Voicing support for the reform plan of the Secretary‑General, he also said that he wants a United Nations that is closer to the people, able to respond to their needs for security and well-being, and ready to protect them from the pitfalls of globalization, which offers many opportunities but can also produce errant effects.
The Italian Government has placed these same priorities at the basis of its action, he said. Government action that does not give due consideration to assuring that all its citizens have equitable and fully dignified living conditions is not action that is morally, much less politically, acceptable. When the Italian Government is accused of populism, he said he always enjoys pointing out that article 1 of the Italian Constitution cites sovereignty and the people, and it is precisely through that provision that he interprets the concept of sovereignty and the exercise of sovereignty by the people. This approach does not modify the traditional position of Italy within the international community and consequently towards the United Nations. Security, the defence of peace and the values that preserve it, and the promotion of development and human rights are goals that are shared.
Respect for the inviolable rights of man is one of the pillars on which the Italian Republic is founded. It acts as a beacon when nations are called upon to address the immense challenges of the grave and prolonged crises in the Euro‑Mediterranean area, including migratory flows. For years, Italy has been engaged in search‑and‑rescue missions in in the Mediterranean Sea and has saved from death tens of thousands of people, often single-handedly. The migratory phenomena requires a structured and multilevelled response from the international community as a whole and it is on this basis that Italy supported the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.
Italy pursues the goals of international peace and security in times of budgetary constraints, he said. It is in the eighth position as a contributor to the United Nations’ regular budget and it supplements this commitment through development initiatives at the bilateral level and through the United Nations Agencies. These initiatives are inspired by the Sustainable Development Goals inscribed in the 2030 Agenda. Italy is also proud to be one of the main contributors to peacekeeping operations. This is a commitment it has maintained for many years, and for which it has received appreciation in the communities in which it is operating.
Italy is a country whose core tenets contains the promotion of dialogue and inclusiveness in crisis situations. These principles are essential when addressing grave and widespread situations of instability that today characterize an area that is vital to the security and prosperity of Italy and Europe as a whole. In the upcoming weeks, his country will host a conference on Libya whose main goal is to support the shared political path and contribute to the political stabilization of the country. This path will foster the broadest‑possible involvement of the Libyan stakeholders who remain the master of their destiny. The United Nations will play a central role through the Action Plan on which all the contributions of the main and regional stakeholders will converge. Shared responsibility in the framework of building peaceful and sustainable societies is a call that is shared. That responsibility should be assumed towards the reform of the United Nations Security Council, on which Italy will continue to pursue its deep commitment, in dialogue with all Member States, to achieve the goal of a shared reform.
JORGE CARLOS DE ALMEIDA FONSECA, President of Cabo Verde, said that hate, discrimination and violence are still alive despite the upcoming seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The integration of human rights standards and principles into the legal order of many countries marks “a major advancement of humanity”, he said. Yet, as the struggle to ensure the effectiveness of the Declaration intensifies, violations of human rights are virtually institutionalized in large parts of the world. While noting that such violations are observed in situations of war that afflict many parts of Africa, he reaffirmed his country’s choice to pursue peace and dialogue to prevent and resolve conflicts.
He expressed profound regret that the death penalty still exists and urged those present today to engage in a “profound, careful and responsible reflection” on this issue. Reiterating his absolute support for Pope Francis’ recent appeal to the conscience of Government authorities, he stressed the need to seek an international consensus for the abolition of the death penalty. “We firmly believe, in the name of clemency and prudence, that capital punishment is not an appropriate and fair instrument. Nor is it efficient in achieving justice,” he stated. Underlining that the death penalty was abolished in Cabo Verde in the nineteenth century, he also called for a universal moratorium on executions, further aligning himself with Pope Francis.
Cabo Verde has been characterized by political stability and can be considered an example of peaceful coexistence of people from different countries, and of various beliefs, he said. Major international institutions have positively evaluated the economic, human and financial achievements of his nation, which allowed it to achieve middle‑income status. However, he added, Cabo Verde has to remain reliant on international solidarity due to its services‑based economy, small market and agricultural sector that struggles against desertification. As it looks to the future, Cabo Verde must take into consideration the increasingly disastrous impacts of climate change — and natural hazard risks — the world faces.
He recalled that his country obtained middle‑income status during a major international financial crisis, and this caused it to miss the window of opportunity such progress typically creates. Since then, its structural vulnerabilities have worsened and become more complex. This shows “the need for, and pertinence of, support measures that are distinct and adjusted to the reality of our country” in the spheres of development, trade and foreign debt. He called for more consequent inclusion and a greater eligibility of island developing countries, in line with the ongoing work at the United Nations and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which he encourages.
The Government of Cabo Verde will organize a round table in Paris in December to call for the creation of innovative partnerships that take into consideration its reality as a small island–developing State, he said. It will be an opportunity for his country to seek its development partners’ opinion on its proposals and discuss various forms of cooperation, in keeping with Cabo Verde’s own national efforts, including its national development plan, which is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals.
MSWATI III, Head of State of Eswatini, expressed support for Assembly resolutions aimed at repositioning the United Nations development system to better support countries in their efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals under stronger national leadership and international cooperation. Citing the existence of pockets of tensions across the globe “which require that all Member States speak in one voice when providing peaceful solutions”, he warned that a fragmented approach will render peaceful solutions elusive. Appealing to countries embroiled in conflict to come up with “home‑grown solutions” to address their differences, he urged them to avoid the use of force and employ dialogue. “Where there is no loss of blood, unity prevails, whereas violence begets instability,” he said.
Outlining another major concern, he said the imbalance between rich and poor people continues to widen despite attempts to implement the Sustainable Development Goals. Such imbalances contribute to terrorism and social strife, he warned, voicing support for Agenda 2063 and its goal of improving lives and realizing a well‑developed Africa by that date. Expressing support for such programmes, he said the slow progress of development adds to many countries’ burdens and prevents them from meeting the needs of their people. “We need to find ways and solutions to speed up the process of developing sustainable economies […] by removing the stumbling blocks to development,” he said.
Emphasizing that “no country deserves to go for a whole year without investment”, he warned against leaving developing countries behind. The African continent, in particular, still faces challenges including such diseases as Ebola, HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, and will continue to do so without funding. All citizens must have access to basic services such as clean water, health care and free primary education. Commending countries that have succeeded in providing those, he spotlighted the need to reduce unemployment and care for older persons as additional important global challenges.
Calling for international cooperation as well as alternative means of funding, he noted that Africa continues to absorb more peacekeeping missions than any other United Nations regional grouping. “This qualifies Africa [for] proper representation in areas of peace and security,” he stressed, emphasizing that the continent’s voice must be heard and featured prominently and permanently at the United Nations. As talks on Security Council reform progress, he stressed the need to consider the common African position — namely, calls for the allocation of no fewer than two permanent Council seats with all the prerogatives and privileges of permanent membership, including the veto power, and five non‑permanent seats.
He went on to outline national progress made in mainstreaming the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2063 into Eswatini’s development framework. Among other things, the country has made strides in localizing and integrating the Goals into its planning processes; finalized the review of its National Development Strategy (1997‑2022); and will soon launch a revised National Strategy, he said, adding that the latter’s theme will be “sustainable development and inclusive growth”. Among other things, he also spotlighted achievements in innovation and research as well as the country’s successful holding of free, fair elections earlier in September.
PETRO POROSHENKO, President of Ukraine, said that the international security environment seemed rock solid just two decades ago. Now it has descended into a volatile and increasingly disturbed state where both traditional and hybrid threats are challenging the stability of our societies. On 24 and 25 September, several families were again struck by grief, as their loved ones perished under Russia’s hostile attacks. “Moscow turns Ukrainians to orphans. It tortures our patriots in its prisons,” he said. Over 1.5 million people have been displaced since 2014. Russia’s hostile attacks have also poisoned the Ukrainian soil and have caused an environmental disaster not only in the occupied Crimea, but in Donbas as well.
Ukraine has made a sovereign decision to live the way it wants and to promote the free world’s democratic values, he continued, adding: “Russia punishes Ukraine for this decision.” It kills, ruins homes and lives on an industrial scale. He urged the United Nations to speak up for Ukraine’s rights. It has proven again and again that staying comfortably silent when international norms are breached does not stop but encourages the offender to continue destructive policies. “Your silence is exactly what the Kremlin weaponizes against Ukraine and, ultimately, against all of us,” he said.
In the absence of a strong and united reaction, irresponsible and selfish actors resort to the tactic of further escalation, he said. “Ensuring responsibility is never an easy feat,” he added. Nothing will stop Moscow from continuing its aggressive expansionist policies if it does not face a united stand from the international community. A lack of punishment certified that after Georgia came Ukraine and after Aleppo came Idlib. Brutal actions must be rejected as illegal. The responsibility for fixing the current state of affairs rests on all. That is why Ukraine introduced the item “The situation in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine” into the Assembly’s current session.
He said that progress on Security Council reform is essential, expressing support for launching text‑based talks within the intergovernmental negotiations. After the failure of the United Nations to prevent aggression against Ukraine, his country had hoped that the Organization would help settle the conflict by deploying peacekeepers. “We firmly count on further progress on this important issue,” he said, adding that Ukraine has prioritized multilateralism by turning to support from the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe.
“Moscow shall feel the strength of the rule of international law,” he continued, recalling the several legal cases Ukraine initiated against Russia in international courts. Yet, Russia continues to ignore relevant rulings, he continued, welcoming the efforts of Australia and the Netherlands to bring Russia to account. He called on Member States to strengthen their efforts in demanding respect for human rights in the temporarily occupied Crimea through the adoption of various Assembly resolutions. “This is the thing about today’s Russia: they don’t care,” he said, adding that Russia is careless about suffering, the truth and the law. “It is up to us to make them care,” he added.
JUAN ORLANDO HERNÁNDEZ ALVARADO, President of Honduras, said his country’s Congress voted on 25 September to appoint a commission to modernize the national election system with a view to creating new transparent technology. He expressed frustration that sometimes there can be a lack of determination and courage to translate myriad global ideas into simple action on the ground. “If we want to live in a harmonious system, then we must uphold the pillars of this Organization,” he said, warning of constant international forces that want to meddle in the internal affairs of sovereign States. “It is necessary to protect rule of law in our countries,” he stressed.
“The world is clamoring for great reforms and deep-seated transformation … and it is up to this generation of leaders to meet the many demands,” he continued. Despite being very vulnerable to climate change, Honduras has taken steps to combat the scourge. Excessive bureaucracy has impeded funding, however, he added, emphasizing that it is up to the Organization to discuss and decide how those funds be used. “Every minute those funds stay in the bank vaults is another minute that banks get rich and people suffer,” he said. Honduras and the wider Central America region have for years been the epicenter of a migrant crisis. Millions of migrants are treated as subhuman.
“They receive ill treatment as they tackle the route of terror towards the United States,” he said. They fall victim to human and drug traffickers and gangs. Honduras still awaits the family reunification of 129 children who have been separated from their parents. Nations of the General Assembly can never forget their commitment to human rights, he said, urging the senior officials of the United Nations and Member States to do more to protect the rights of children.
The goal of Honduras and its neighbouring countries is to lay the foundation of a Central American Customs Union, he said. Such a model will facilitate trade based on justice and equality. He expressed concern for the unfairness with which coffee producers have been treated. He asked: “How many of you drink a cup of coffee in the morning or during the day?” There is a great probability that you are participating in an enormous injustice causing extreme poverty. A cup of coffee in New York costs about $5 and yet a coffee producer in Honduras doesn’t even get two cents from that. “Is that an injustice or not?” In Honduras alone, there are 90,000 coffee producers. “Let us organize ourselves because apparently no one is looking out for the interests of small coffee producers,” he said.
In Honduras, there are also non-State armed groups confronting good citizens and the Government, he continued, adding that armed groups are constantly trying to undermine the rule of law. They violate the rights of thousands of Hondurans. The situation in Honduras should sound the alarm for Member States to unite to defend the rule of law. “What this is about is the fundamental right to life, freedom and democracy,” he continued, requesting the Assembly to produce a resolution to recognize gangs as non-State actors that cause instability and undermine the rule of law. Honduras is working to create a climate of peace, but that is just not enough. He called on the conscience of all world leaders to protect democracies and human rights from non-State armed groups and gangs.
UHURU KENYATTA, President of Kenya, expressed strong support for the General Assembly’s intention to better enable the United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN-Habitat) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to fulfil their global mandates. However, he said there was a need for broader reforms. In almost every part of the world, there is a growing trust gap between citizens and their governing institutions, due to growing awareness of the scourge of corruption and wastage of public resources.
Pointing beyond individual corruption, he said major corporations are misrepresenting earnings to deny Governments revenues needed for investment in public goods. The corrupt dealings of cartels and oligopolies pillaging Africa’s resources “have over several decades been clothed in the garments of legality”, leading to “popular theorizing of Africa’s resource curse” he said.
Continuing, he said that citizens all over the world are more aware that a globalized financial and legal system enables the illegal conduct of corrupt individuals, with Africa probably enduring the most suffering. Saying evidence increasingly marked Africa as a net exporter of capital through illicit outflows, he cited conservative estimates that the outflow ranged between $1.2 and $1.4 trillion between 1980 and 2009, roughly equal to the continent’s current gross domestic product (GDP) and “surpassing by far the money it received from outside over the same period”. Illicit capital powers a global corrupt network used by drug cartels and even terrorist organizations, driving a loss of trust in national, regional and global governing institutions, and thus enabling populists and extremists who thrive in chronic instability.
Turning to international conflict, he praised the regional efforts of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which has degraded one of Al-Qaida’s most ambitious affiliates. “Kenya has been part of this journey from the start”, he said, as in Nairobi, the Kenyan people had provided material and moral support to negotiate a transitional federal State into existence. The Kenyan people have lost lives and property in pursuit of peace in Somalia, and the job is not yet done. With military success over Al-Shabaab a necessity for other political and economic solutions, he called for international support commensurate with the threat scenario. “What the international community is doing with Somalia is not good enough,” he stated. In South Sudan, he said that forging stability and peace requires a commitment to work closely with South Sudanese parties in the wake of a revitalized peace agreement. Kenya is proud of its role there and calls on the international community to redouble efforts to end the suffering of its people, as “in building peace there are no silver bullets”.
Globally, he said multilateralism is under severe strain, threatening the system of trade and security established after the Second World War under the aegis of the United Nations. Calling for bold solutions, he said the global community must fight impunity and corruption, fraud and abuse of public trust. Kenya has reached out to partners in Switzerland and the United Kingdom to counter transfers of illegal proceeds to their banking and financial systems, but bilateral agreements must come with determined reforms. Saying that one such reform must occur in the Security Council, he called for two permanent seats for Africa to counter the “historical injustice” of its under-representation in the non-permanent Member category. “Global decision-making needs more of Africa, if the world is to respond wisely to the demographic and economic shifts under way,” he said.
TANETI MAAMAU, President of Kiribati, said that the theme of the seventy‑third session — making the United Nations relevant to all people — is a strong call and reminder to the United Nations machinery that the effectiveness of the Organization’s efforts is not measured by how much we have achieved, but by how much those we serve have seen a better change in their lives.
He said that Kiribati has long recognized the importance of peaceful living characterized by a traditional and humble way of living in harmony, something that is sustained through regular community meetings in traditional local meeting houses called “maneaba”. “Maneaba” means to embrace all in a holistic system. In the Pacific context, there are other instruments to address the socioeconomic and political risks in the country, as the Pacific accounts for 20 per cent of the world’s ocean in terms of exclusive economic zone. Therefore, the completion of maritime boundaries is very critical.
He noted the adoption of the historic United Nations Law of the Sea, which in 1982 enabled the country to own and sustainably manage a huge area of ocean. In addition, he noted the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty assured that radiation illnesses suffered by citizens will not be repeated.
Moving on to United Nations governance and accountability, he said that the Organization is constantly pulled between opposing but interconnected interests, but that it was critical the Assembly could ensure that balance was maintained. He expressed concern that the financial difficulties facing the United Nations were impacting its services and the well-being of staff. Therefore, it is high time to reassess the validity of certain activities of the United Nations, ones which were applicable during the post-war years but are no longer effective with United Nations services becoming the exclusive domain of huge multinational corporations. He gave the example of peacekeeping and the hundreds of millions of dollars spent, money that could be better utilized on eliminating the root causes of conflicts, armed terrorism and humanitarian crises by investing in good governance, education and health.
Highlighting other opportunities, he noted that his country launched its first climate change policy, which focuses on resilience and priority areas in water and sanitation as well as coastal protection. To this end, he reaffirmed that Kiribati was continuing to maintain 11 per cent of exclusive economic zone in the Phoenix Islands. In this respect, he commended current efforts towards new legally binding instruments on the use of marine biological diversity.
EMMERSON DAMBUDZO MNANGAGWA, President of Zimbabwe, said that his country has made substantial progress in the implementation of some of the Sustainable Development Goals. In a bid to improve nutrition and broaden income opportunities, Zimbabwe has extended support to the livestock, fisheries and wildlife sectors. “We are confident that these multi-pronged programmes will accelerate Zimbabwe’s re-entry into the global economy,” he added. Recalling the many developmental and economic challenges caused by the continued illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe, he called for their immediate removal.
Peace, security, stability, democracy and good governance are essential ingredients for sustainable development, he said, noting Zimbabwe’s recent general elections. Election campaigning, voting and counting processes were conducted freely, peacefully and transparently. International observers and global media were also invited to observe the elections. “The exceptionally peaceful pre- and post-electoral environment represented the maturing and entrenchment of democracy in Zimbabwe,” he said. Expressing gratitude to the United Nations and other Member States for sending election observer missions and for providing technical assistance, he said the recommendations received will be considered.
The isolated incident of the post-election violence which occurred on 1 August is regrettable and unacceptable, he said. The Commission of Inquiry, comprising of eminent persons of national, regional and international repute, has now begun its work. Their report will help bring closure to the matter and will assist in the improvement of Zimbabwe’s institutional governance. Now that elections are over, Zimbabwe is focusing on economic development. “The Land Reform Programme is behind us and is irreversible,” he added.
It is time to look forward to Agenda 2063 and focus on increasing investments, decent jobs and empowerment and realizing a society free from poverty and corruption, he said. “Zimbabwe is open for business,” he emphasized, outlining steps taken to modernize the country’s roads, airports and other infrastructure. He also urged the need to address the root causes of conflict, which include poverty, inequality and disputes over land and resources.
The United Nations, like all global organizations, must be democratic, he said, calling for the review and reform of the Bretton Woods institutions and other international financial organizations. Trade remains an engine for growth if it is conducted fairly. He further called for negotiations under the World Trade Organization (WTO) which foster inclusive and shared economic growth. He also urged the international community not to turn a blind eye to the suffering of the Palestinian people. It is disheartening that the people of the Western Sahara have yet to exercise their inalienable rights to self-determination. The Security Council in cooperation with the African Union must find a just solution to the issue of Western Sahara.
ANDRZEJ DUDA, President of Poland, noted that his people are celebrating the centenary of regaining independence, stating Europe will not be just and safe without a sovereign Poland. Elsewhere, he said, the modern world is full of threats, but dynamic developments on the international situation offer reasons to be hopeful, such as ongoing de-escalation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula. However, problems remain unresolved, and require the cooperation of as many countries as possible.
Only cooperation among countries within the rule-based global order can resolve frozen conflicts and prevent the emergence of new ones, he said. Adding that such order requires strong institutions to enforce it, he said no violation of the law can be justified.
Stating that the sovereign equality of States as referred to in Article 2 of the United Nations Charter would be Poland’s priority in its second year of membership on the Security Council, he pointed to a “negative multiculturalism” that aims for the concert of Powers, division into spheres of influence and deciding the fate of others. “Europe and Poland were often the victims of this kind of multiculturalism” he said, calling for the multiculturalism of equal States and free nations, not of usurpation and hierarchy.
States with an advantage of potential and power should not deprive others of their equal right to independence, he continued. Saying weaker countries should be given enhanced opportunities that may involve additional voting powers or representation in decision-making bodies, he called for reform of the Security Council to expand the field of equal rights, and reform of the European Union to its origins, which “emerged from the concept of positive multiculturalism, and which today are repeatedly violated”.
Multilateralism must serve the system of values reflected in the United Nations Charter, he said, because when there is a temptation to a concert of Powers, global stability is undermined. The sovereignty of a State should be fundamentally linked to responsibility for the respect of norms for the common good. He stated Poland attaches particular importance to human rights, bidding for membership in the United Nations Human Rights Council for 2020-2022, and will return to active participation in peacekeeping missions. Poland is involved in the process of stabilization and building lasting security on the Korean Peninsula and is ready to actively engage in international peace rebuilding in the Middle East. However, he felt the duty to alert the international community of threats to world peace resulting from frozen conflicts, occupation and shifting of borders by force, which is happening in Eastern Europe. “The international community must not allow a return to “business as usual”, and the actions of aggressors should be confronted with a relevant response” he said.
MARCELO REBELO DE SOUSA, President of Portugal, deplored the emergence of unilateral tropism and disinvestment in international organizations, saying that political short-sightedness runs the risk of repeating the mistakes of almost a century ago. Multilateralism must always be strengthened but will be gutted if the status quo is maintained. The geopolitics of the twenty‑first century require reforming the Security Council, at the very least adding the presence of the African continent, Brazil and India.
In conflict prevention and peacekeeping, he cited Portugal’s role in nine United Nations operations, particularly the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). Portugal also unreservedly supports the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration and the global compact on refugees, and will continue to accept migrants, refugees and other displaced persons. He pointed to the Global Platform for Syrian Students, launched under former Portugal President Jorge Sampaio.
He said that multilateralism affects oceans and maritime security, and he mentioned Portugal’s preparations for the Second United Nations Oceans Conference in 2020. His country is also involved in the European Union Naval Force Operation working for maritime security on the coasts of Somalia and the Gulf of Guinea, and the Yaoundé process alongside the African Union, and is going further in creating the Azores Centre for the Defence of the Ocean, an international platform.
He said there are two different views of the world. One is short‑term, unilateral, protectionist, minimizing multilateralism and prone to climate change denial, opposing global pacts on migration and refugees. Portugal, he said, shares the other, multilateral view, which is open, favours global governance, is committed to sustainable development, and regards international law and human rights as values and principles. This view, he said, will prevail as it has in the European Union, which is enjoying the longest period of peace in living memory.
Turning to the world situation, he attached special relevance to strengthening the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries, currently presided over by Cabo Verde. Saying Portuguese is among the world’s most widely spoken languages, he called for its adoption as an official language of the United Nations. Noting the growing importance of the African Union in peace and sustainable development, he hailed the historic Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship between Ethiopia and Eritrea and expressed hope for safe, free and fair elections in the Congo. Important developments on the Korean Peninsula open up positive prospects for denuclearization. Unfortunately, he said, parts of the Middle East and Maghreb remain unstable, citing Libya, Yemen and Syria as crises that require international action and a substantive, inclusive and United Nations–mediated political solution. “In any case, stabilization and peace in the Middle East will only be possible with the resolution of the Israeli‑Palestinian conflict,” he said, noting it requires the resumption of a credible negotiation process addressing all final issues, including the question of Jerusalem.
SALVADOR SÁNCHEZ CERÉN, President of El Salvador, expressed to the Secretary-General the urgent need to close the funding gap hampering the Sustainable Development Goals. Saying El Salvador has allocated an unprecedented 50 per cent of its budget to achieve them, his country still requires the international community to shoulder its burden.
El Salvador is vulnerable in many respects, he said, with climate change being a major threat. His country recently suffered through one of the worst droughts in its history due to climate change, driving it to invest further in food security. El Salvador produces virtually no pollution but suffers from climate change caused by others. Adding the country is moving to large-scale restoration of its ecosystems, he thanked UNEP for accepting their proposal for the 2020-2030 United Nations Decade for Ecosystems and invited the international community to support its adoption.
Noting that his nation had reduced poverty by 10 per cent between 2009-2017, he pointed to broader initiatives to improve living conditions. He said there are now 100 municipalities with no illiteracy, including San Salvador, the third Latin American city to achieve that, thanking Cuba for its support. His country has focused on defending women’s rights and preventing femicide and sexual violence, and has a national strategy to reduce maternal mortality. He looked forward to the impending canonization of Bishop Oscar Romero by Pope Francis, which the people of El Salvador will celebrate with joy and hope.
Turning to migration, he welcomed the Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration and the global compact on refugees, which are clear examples of the United Nations seeking worldwide consensus. Families coming from the northern triangle of Central America have suffered, harming boys and girls. He called on United States authorities to speed up the reunification of children with their families. El Salvador is working to improve living conditions, reducing irregular migration to the United States by 60 per cent, but he absolutely rejected any criminalization of migrants, who contribute to societies to which they migrate. He urged competent bodies in the United States to provide greater migration security under Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Action for Child Arrivals.
As a founding Member State of the United Nations, El Salvador supports multilateralism in all endeavors and constructive international dialogues which can lead to political solutions, he said. Calling for an end to unilateral measures, including the unjust blockade of Cuba by the United States and sanctions against Venezuela, he said that such coercive measures must end.
BARON DIVAVESI WAQA, President of Nauru, said that to be responsive to the needs of every country, the international community must address a systemic bias within the United Nations. The population of Nauru is a little over 10,000 people, he emphasized, recalling several obstacles he experienced when trying to access support from the United Nations. The unique challenges of small island developing States are widely recognized. Volatility in commodity markets has outsized impacts on fiscal planning. This coupled with climate change has left Nauru and others like it with extremely underdeveloped economies.
It is fair to say that the logic of the entire global economic system is driven by the relentless pursuit of “larger and larger scale”, he said. In the name of efficiency, private enterprises expand operations in places with large pools of cheap labour or vast reserves of resources. “They seek out the greatest profit centres and abandon those that underperform,” he continued. “I dare say this logic has permeated the United Nations system.” He added: “Why wade through all the loan paperwork to replace a small diesel generator when the same number of documents can mobilize funding to transform a much larger energy system?”
The smallest countries simply cannot offer the profit potential that private investors are seeking, he said. Small can be nimble, however. Modest resources can yield transformative impacts. Take renewable energy. A few small islands have made enormous progress in the past few years and are looking to achieve 100 per cent renewable energy systems within a decade. Nauru is ready to seize the opportunity presented by cheap solar energy and free itself from the expensive burden of fossil fuels. “Capacity and resource constraints are the only things holding us back,” he said.
Nauru has estimated the cost of moving itself to 100 per cent renewable energy at $63 million, he said, emphasizing that financial and capacity-building resources need to be made more accessible. New funding approaches, such as direct access modalities and direct budgetary support, seem to be yielding much better results in small countries. In addition, adequate financing must be available for basic infrastructure, not just for the development fads of the moment.
A Special Representative, supported by a well-resourced staff, is needed to help us start managing climate risks more effectively, he said. There is a critical gap in the United Nations system that must be filled immediately, he continued. Building a more inclusive United Nations also requires addressing the most urgent global challenges, which include the security implications of climate change. Making the United Nations relevant means including the people of Taiwan, who must be treated equally with the people of other nations.
TOMMY ESANG REMENGESAU, JR., President of Palau, expressed his commitment to promoting peaceful, equitable and sustainable societies both at home and internationally. The Sustainable Development Goals are the most important framework for achieving those objectives, he said, noting that while each country’s development path will be unique, all will be interlinked and reinforce one another. Palau’s core priorities include health, oceans and climate change, through which the rest of its development objectives and durable partnerships will be realized.
Recalling that Palau declared 2018 as the Year of Good Health, he said it is already implementing several awareness-raising events to cultivate healthier lifestyles and respond to the deadly challenge of non-communicable diseases. Expressing regret that Palau is ranked among the world’s top 10 most obese nations — while people in other parts of the world are dying of hunger and poverty — he said his country’s citizens are in effect dying from overeating and poor diets. That crisis has prompted a strategic shift in focus at the country’s Ministry of Health, he said, adding that it is aimed at bolstering preventive services to improve health and livelihoods. “We are encouraging a return to traditional diets and increasing our local food production, as much of the problem stems from the importation of unhealthy junk food,” he said.
Turning to the health of the ocean — which is Palau’s livelihood, culture and identity — he said the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 14 is a top priority for his country. “Our environment is our economy, and our economy is our environment,” he said, noting that preserving coral reefs and abundant fisheries will ensure that the tourism sector grows and food security is maintained. For those reasons, Palau has moved aggressively to implement is National Marine Sanctuary — a “no-take zone” covering 80 per cent of its exclusive economic zone.
Expressing pride in all those domestic efforts, he said international action nevertheless remains critical. Welcoming the recent launch of the high-level panel for a sustainable ocean economy, he also expressed hope that the ongoing intergovernmental conference on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction will result in a strong outcome document to complement national actions. Also expressing Palau’s strong support for the Paris Agreement, he underscored the need to build the resilience of vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change as an urgent global priority.
Palau’s own climate change policy framework seeks to undertake effective adaptation measures, he continued, while also strengthening the country’s capacity to prepare for and minimize disaster risks and mitigating climate change through low-carbon emission clean energy initiatives. Small island nations are making great strides in transforming their energy systems, and Palau for its part is committed to increasing its supply of renewable energy by harnessing solar power and switching 45 per cent of its electricity to renewable sources by 2025. “Smokestacks have no place in paradise,” he said, also outlining new laws that have modernized the country’s electricity sector and put in place enabling frameworks to trigger investments in solar power.
EVO MORALES AYMA, President of Bolivia, said that men, women and children in the world expect our debate here to have an outcome and results to improve their lives. Citing the theme of this year’s session — making the United Nations relevant to all people — he said we must resolve issues by peaceful means, referring to the case his country had sent to the International Court of Justice for Chile to negotiate with Bolivia for the sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean. The hemispheric importance of that dispute is recognized by the Organization of American States. Hoping to end the 100‑year‑old dispute between the neighbours, he noted the negative impact of having access denied to the Pacific Ocean. It has greatly affected its human development and denied its access to the huge resources of the sea. “A human being needs the sea, you cannot have life on land without water,” he said, calling it a window to other people and life itself and regretting that Bolivia is now landlocked.
Unfortunately, we come together here every year, yet many of the crises are getting worse and more serious, he said. While referring to several major current challenges, he cited climate change, the arms race and a nuclear disaster, and inequality. Addressing climate change, he pointed out that each year is getting hotter than before, harsher phenomena are occurring, and more people are affected by hurricanes, droughts, flooding and pollution. Tackling the structural causes are essential. The largest polluter in history, the United States, has turned its back on science, and thus on humanity. Climate change is an inevitable result of capitalism. “The planet is being exhausted and life, too,” he said.
On the arms race and a possible nuclear disaster, he noted many leaders concerned come here and talk about peace. Addressing the inequality of wealth, he deplored the fact that wealth is concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. He pointed out that half of the human population saw no increase in income. He said that this is a model for accumulating wealth and not for alleviating poverty. He also stressed that the United States must provide reparations to Cuba, lifting blockades and giving Guantanamo back to Cuba. On the People’s Alternative Revolutionary Force (FARC) and Colombia, he expressed his hope for that country in protecting the lives of those who defended human rights. Noting that Venezuela suffered aggression by the United States, he said that that South American nation should be able to solve their own problems. Condemning Israel’s criminal occupation of Palestinian territories, he reiterated his support for the two‑State solution. Furthermore, he expressed his deep regrets for the war in Syria costing the lives of more than half a million in the last 8 years, adding that Bolivia rejects violation of independence and integrity of territory, including by the United States. War is the result of policies of regime change and interfering in internal affairs. He thanked the Russian Federation, Iran, Turkey and Kazakhstan for their efforts to solve the crisis in Syria.
Speaking of his own country, he noted that it got rid of United States military bases and the impositions of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Furthermore, Bolivia reduced poverty from 37 per cent to 17 per cent, increased life expectancy and reduced child mortality by 56 per cent. He listed initiatives to combat corruption and put an end to banking secrecy, providing the greatest possible transparency.
He confirmed Bolivia’s continued commitment to multilateralism, stressing that we must build a fairer and more just society for all. “We have only one planet. This is our home,” he stressed.
NICOLÁS MADURO MOROS, President of Venezuela, said he is part of a revolutionary people and a land that will never come to its knees. Paying tribute to a proud people living in the country where Simon Bolivar was born and whence he “freed a continent” from colonialists and enslavement, he cited Venezuela’s history of heroic resistance and support of indigenous peoples. Decrying shameful actions against his country, he said that President Donald Trump used his United Nations address to invoke a doctrine that imposed the rule of the United States from 200 years ago, that intervention is possible and that he can be judge and policeman of the world. Describing the Monroe Doctrine as an imperialist expression of ownership of the Americas, he said “our people rose against it because we wanted freedom and equality”, but that the United States wants to continue giving orders to the world in the twenty-first century as it did in the preceding one.
Stating that Venezuela is regarded as having the largest oil reserves in the world, the fourth largest gas reserves and may have the largest gold reserves, he described them as areas of geopolitical interest for “oligarchs in Washington” who want to control Venezuela. Saying Venezuela has been subjected to illegal actions and economic persecution and cannot use the United States dollar in any international transactions, he denounced President Trump’s mention of possible further sanctions “in this sanctuary of international law”. Venezuela is also being attacked constantly in the media to justify intervention, he said, citing a recent New York Times article on how to bring about regime change. Regardless, his nation has been able to prevent coups, violence and military offensives.
Referring to similar concerns, he cited examples of United States intervention in his country and others, including the invention of a “migration crisis” in Mexico and the NATO bombing of Libya, which in fact has led to a real forced migration crisis in Africa. Providing examples of further interference in Venezuela, he asked how many coup d’états and dictatorships had been imposed on Latin America, blaming the United States who believed “that we could not govern ourselves as we saw fit”. Stating that a 4 August terrorist drone assassination attempt against him in Caracas was prepared and funded from the territory of the United States, he requested a special United Nations rapporteur to carry out an independent investigation. Yet despite vast differences, he said he is willing to reach his hand out to President Trump to discuss regional matters bilaterally. Venezuela is peaceful and friendly and appreciates the culture, art and social life of the United States, but it is against the “imperialists in Washington”.
Domestically, he pointed to a programme reestablishing a new economy not solely based on oil money, but one that is sustainable. The international community must build a multipolar world, as there is not one single economic model to impose on anyone.
Declaring solidarity with the Palestinian people and calling for the immediate end of the blockade of Cuba, he said: “We have a world to build”, stating that “Venezuela is stronger than ever” and aims to create its own twenty-first century socialist model. Paying tribute to the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit, he cited the South African leader as a man once known as a terrorist who is now a “symbol of what can be done if you are strong enough to rebel and struggle for justice”.
FAUSTIN ARCHANGE TOUADERA, President of the Central African Republic, said that at a time when the United Nations is undergoing broad reforms and the world is facing ever more complex challenges, from violent extremism to economic inequalities, the Organization has a central role to play in maintaining peace and security worldwide. Global leadership must provide the necessary tools for an efficient response. Supporting the African Union’s position, he said the continent must be fully represented in all United Nations organs, particularly the Security Council, which should eliminate veto power for its permanent members and allocate a permanent seat to an African nation.
On the global threats of terrorism and violent extremism, he said his country and region have not escaped some of the consequences, including the unravelling of social cohesion, rampant violence, humanitarian crises and the destruction of development efforts. Africa has showed its unity in combating those scourges, working together in a holistic, coherent manner that contributes to development. That is the best way to prevent and combat those threats, he said, emphasizing the significance of tailored responses adapted to unique environments.
Turning to challenges ahead, he said that when migration is managed well, the phenomenon can have positive development effects for nations of origin and significant gains for countries of destination. Managed poorly, migration also has grave consequences for the well-being of countries and migrants, coupled with risks of destabilizing national and regional security, he said, commending the forthcoming intergovernmental conference to adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. On climate change challenges, he encouraged all States to work together towards reaching sustainable development targets.
Sharing national achievements, he said efforts are under way to boost State and social services in provinces nationwide. Regretting to note the persistence of armed groups aimed at fuelling violence across the Central African Republic, he said the Government has maintained its security and defence sectors, including the deployment of armed forces and the national disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme. Commending MINUSCA and partners for their support, he asked for a lifting of the arms embargo, which is hampering the development of military forces. Citing further gains, he said efforts have also aimed at combating impunity, including the establishment of the new special penal court and the truth and reconciliation commission.
Today, the Government and people of the Central African Republic are resolutely engaging in consolidating democratic processes and economic growth, he said. Despite challenges, his country remains determined in its efforts, he said, pledging to spare no effort to create conditions for reconciliation and reconstruction. Thanking partners and the international community for their support, he expressed hope that they will remain committed to working with the Central African Republic to ensure further progress in his country’s recovery.
JABER AL-MUBARAK AL-HAMAD AL SABAH, Prime Minister of Kuwait, emphasized his support for the reform of the United Nations as envisioned by the Secretary-General. He recalled the original motivation for creating the United Nations to protect present and future generations from the scourge of war, pointing to the urgent need to bolster the Organization’s ability to respond to current challenges like violence, extremism, terrorism, proliferation of mass destruction weapons, violation of human rights and the consequences of climate change, evolving into a safe haven and the guarantor of world peace and stability. On the importance of reforming the Security Council, he said it must be capable to shoulder today’s challenges and reflect international reality, adding that there should be a permanent seat on the organ for an Arab Member State. He noted that the agenda of Kuwait’s non-permanent membership to the Council was not limited by any cultural, ethnic, political or geographical considerations, stressing that he aimed at going beyond the routine of the participation in the work of the organ.
On the Palestinian question as the oldest issue of the Security Council, he pointed to resolution 56 (1948) when the organ dealt with the issue for the first time, adding that Israel still persists in its intransigence, rejecting and ignoring resolutions of international legitimacy, and continues to expand the establishment of illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian territories. He recalled the latest resolution 2334 (2016) calling for the cessation of all Israeli illegal settlements. He noted the detention of thousands of Palestinians and Israel’s military aggressions in the Gaza Strip while not observing the protection of civilians in armed conflicts.
In addition, he deplored the fact that the Syrian crisis continues due to the inability of the international community to find a solution. More than 400,000 Syrians are dead, and there are more than 12 million refugees and displaced persons, he said. On the importance of direct dialogue with all partners to achieve a peaceful settlement, he reaffirmed Kuwait’s position on rejecting any military solution for the Syrian crisis. On Yemen, he said that the Houthi group’s threat to stability and peace in the region by launching ballistic missiles to Saudi Arabia has endangered the safety of free navigation through the Strait of Bab-Al-Mandab and the Red Sea. He reaffirmed his country’s commitment to respect Yemen’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity under the legitimate authority of that country.
Turning to terrorism and violent extremism in the Middle East, he pointed to his country’s material and moral support in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). He reaffirmed Kuwait’s assistance to Iraq to fulfil its outstanding obligations pursuant to relevant Security Council resolutions with the aim to aid Iraq to regain its role and position in the region and internationally. Addressing the issue of the Rohyinga Muslim minority of Myanmar, he reaffirmed Kuwait’s continued efforts in cooperation with all parties concerned in guaranteeing a safe, voluntary and dignified return and bringing to account those responsible for the crimes committed against them. Mentioning Iran, he called for strengthening the rules of good neighbourliness and non-interference in internal affairs of the State according to the United Nations Charter.
On the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement, he noted his nation’s support for eradicating poverty; ensuring equal rights to dignity, education, health, and political participation; the empowerment of youth and women; and the implementation of measures to achieve its goals. He pointed to a futuristic national vision for “a new Kuwait” to be accomplished by 2035, aiming to transform it into a regional centre and a financial, commercial, cultural and institutional pioneer.
XAVIER BETTEL, Prime Minister of Luxembourg, said a retreat in multilateralism can be seen on many fronts. However, in democracies, multilateralism and respect for the rule of law act as guarantees for nations to play a role at the international level. The same is true on the economic landscape, where measures and counter-measures can jeopardize growth for all, he said, encouraging a return to negotiations and constructive engagement under WTO auspices to avoid a situation where all actors suffered losses. Similarly, challenges such as migration require solutions at the global level, he continued, expressing hope such a formula will be found during the intergovernmental conference to adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. Highlighting that the European Union is now creating mechanisms for member States to address the issue of welcoming refugees, he said Luxembourg has been engaged in efforts to welcome asylum-seekers, adding that clear distinctions have been made between political refugees and economic migrants.
On climate change, he supported the Secretary-General’s urgent calls to follow through on the Paris Agreement for the sake of future generations. Voicing support for related efforts, he underlined the significance of the 2030 Agenda, which acts as a guide to mobilize the international community. However, financing sustainable development efforts has been problematic. Despite the creation of specific mechanisms at the international and national level aimed at mobilizing the private sector, more must be done. To address that issue, Luxembourg created a “green grant” and is working on tools tailored towards meeting other sustainable development objectives. Yet, development contributions are falling, he said, emphasizing the need to diversify sources of aid and noting Luxembourg’s contributions of 1 per cent of its GDP.
Expressing support for the Secretary-General’s development and security sector reform efforts, he raised some of the challenges concerning the latter. Noting that Africa hosted the most peacekeeping operations, he said the Sahel region is a corridor of instability and coordinated efforts must work towards overcoming problems there. Highlighting Luxembourg’s support and contributions for various United Nations missions, he raised concerns about crises elsewhere, including the impasse in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the explosive situation in Libya. The Syrian war, with reports of chemical weapons use and humanitarian crises, was another grave concern, as was the worsening situation in Yemen, he said, noting that regional actors are playing key roles in both cases. On disarmament developments, he expressed hope that talks between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the United States will lead to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Regretting to note a tendency to move towards unilateral action in certain situations and a crumbling of respect for human rights, he pointed to cases in Myanmar involving the Rohingya community and called on the Human Rights Council to address those concerns. Human rights covered a broad range, including sexual and reproductive rights, he said, citing his country’s support for related projects worldwide. Reiterating the benefits of multilateralism in rising to the challenges of globalization, he said a return to a narrow notion of national has never been an option for Luxembourg and today it is no longer an option for any Member State.
MARK RUTTE, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, recalled the late Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s legacy of hope and the firm belief in progress as a unifying theme in human history as in the Millennium Development Goals. Taking his legacy forward, he said: “We have to make the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement a reality.” He reiterated his commitment to international cooperation, pointing out that the Netherlands have it enshrined in article 90 of their Constitution. Stressing that multilateralism is not optional, he underlined the need for a transnational outlook to master current challenges, noting that there is no conflict between multilateralism and national interests. On a different note, he said that the downing of the flight MH17 remains an open wound for the Netherlands and all grieving nations concerned, appreciating the support of the international community as expressed in Security Council resolution 2166 (2014) and pointing to their resolve to uncover the full truth, serve justice and accept responsibilities.
He regretted the fact that even though the rules-based multilateral order brought great things for many people, this is not the case for many others. While acknowledging that the system is not perfect, he pointed out that compromise is being rejected in favour of polarization and perceived self-interest. He voiced his concern about rising repression, human rights violations and shrinking freedom worldwide, citing Syria as a consequence of a paralysed multilateral system.
Applauding the first results of the United Nations reform, he stressed that the Organization must be made fit-for-purpose to deliver on the 2030 Agenda. He suggested that the United Nations reduce the number of its 3,000 offices around the world by at least 1,000 through colocation.
On the Action for Peacekeeping agenda of the Secretary-General, he urged to keep the instrument up-to-date as peacekeeping is at the heart of the United Nations and its reforms will make its missions more effective. “Supporting change is not a free lunch”, he said, noting that the Netherlands were the first Member State to announce funding for a reformed resident coordinator system raising the efficiency of the United Nations development system. He said that he transferred the intellectual property rights of the Dutch Travel Information Portal to the United Nations, thus allowing access to all Member States to the system mapping the travel movements of terrorists and organized crime syndicates. On sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment committed by Organization staff, he underscored that this is unacceptable and there must be no exceptions, quoting the Secretary-General’s zero-tolerance policy. Victims must be heard and supported and whistle-blowers must be protected.
Solving problems is to tackle root causes, he said. “We need to give the value of water greater weight in the economic, social and environmental choices,” he said. He stressed that water management and adapting to climate change are highly important for the Netherlands, referring to the Agenda for Water Action they presented earlier in 2018. Welcoming the new Global Commission on Adaptation, he noted that it should provide a platform to delve deeper into the links between climate resilience, financing and security, using an integrated approach. The Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goal 13 set clear objectives, but water cuts across all 17 Goals, he said. He stressed the need for international transparency, fair market mechanisms and a level playing field for all countries to be able to adapt to climate change. Lastly, he reiterated that constructive multilateralism is the only way to make progress, and furthermore, he announced Netherlands’ candidacy for the Human Rights Council for the 2020 to 2022 term.
ERNA SOLBERG, Prime Minister of Norway, said the job of saving future generations from the scourge of war, which the United Nations set out to fulfil, has not been done. As the 17 Sustainable Development Goals recognize that global and national challenges are interlinked, it is clear that “we can achieve more when we act together”, she said, highlighting gains made in halving extreme poverty levels and reaching other development benchmarks. However, globalization has not been equally beneficial for all and efforts must made to reform trade norms and to modernize rights, rules and responsibilities to fit the current global economy, she said, adding that free trade promotes winners, while protectionism does not.
Turning to security concerns, she raised alarm at the Syrian conflict. Emphasizing that the Security Council must be able to act, she pointed out that banned weapons have reappeared and respect for human rights and international law has been undermined. Rules and principles are in jeopardy in Europe, as Ukraine’s recognized borders must be restored. Moreover, violent extremism, conflict and instability are driving crises that affect all nations. Norway supports the International Criminal Court as an independent institution and believes that security is closely linked with sustainable development.
In that vein, she recommended boosting trade and job creation while building capacity for generating domestic revenue and strengthening public service delivery. Conflict can reverse years of social and economic progress, so prevention, peacekeeping and disarmament are vital if the world intends to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. On the 2030 Agenda, the goals are linked. For instance, achieving economic goals will make funding available to foster further progress on other objectives.
“But, we have no time to lose,” she said. “Sustainable change cannot be brought about overnight. National ownership is critical, but civil society, the private sector, trade unions and the scientific community all have a catalytic role to play.” For its part, Norway has played an active role in promoting many of the 2030 Agenda goals and targets, she said, providing a list of examples, from funding education initiatives to establishing the High-level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, aimed at promoting science-based decision-making in the fields of ocean economy and management.
As a strong supporter of the United Nations, she said, Norway is a large financial contributor and works with partners from many regions on promoting sustainable development. Norway also promotes Security Council reform with a view to making it more transparent and representative, she said, noting that her country will continue to seek common solutions to challenges faced by all.
Right of Reply
The representative of Azerbaijan, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, expressed concern about comments made by the Prime Minister of Armenia on 25 September. Pointing out that Armenia used military force to seize a part of Azerbaijan and set up a regime there, he said tens of thousands were subsequently killed and hundreds went missing. In fact, the Security Council adopted resolutions addressing those actions as well as related territorial claims, facts Armenia’s Prime Minister failed to mention. All statements by that country’s leadership about democracy will remain preposterous until it took concrete steps to rectify the situation in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
The representative of Armenia, responding to those comments, said there is no conflict between his country and Azerbaijan. The conflict is in fact between Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan. Summarizing the history of the region, he said Azerbaijan had attacked the population of Nagorno-Karabakh, which eventually won the war and declared its independence. The aggressor is really Azerbaijan, he said, emphasizing that everything his counterpart just said is false. The words do not correspond to realities on the ground. It is important to avoid debating the issues here, he said, stressing that Azerbaijan should seriously engage in the peace process to find a negotiated solution.
The representative of Azerbaijan said the false statements just made reflect a policy of lies. The Security Council has ruled on the reality on the ground, he said, noting that Armenia rejected the demands of the 15-nation organ. Armenia’s allegations are baseless and leave no doubt who is responsible for the continued hostilities. It is well known that Armenia occupies the Nagorno-Karabakh region, he said, inviting his counterpart to comment on efforts to implement the Sustainable Development Goals. “They are silent on that matter because they have nothing to say,” he said, highlighting that as soon as the conflict is resolved, the people will be able to benefit from peace and stability.
The representative of Armenia said details about who attacked whom first must be known, inviting Member States to read newspapers from 30 years ago and not ones published today. The Council did use its power to stop the hostilities that occurred. However, today, visitors to Nagorno-Karabakh are being blacklisted by Azerbaijan authorities, who are limiting their freedom of movement. Nagorno-Karabakh has ratified all major United Nations conventions and will be presenting its voluntary national review on its Sustainable Development Goals progress. Raising concerns about threats by ISIL fighters to travel to Nagorno-Karabakh for a conflict, he said resolving the conflict occurs through a negotiated format.
* A dispute exists between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).