World Leaders Focus on Unilateralism, Climate Change Threats to International Peace, Security, as General Assembly Continues Debate

GA/12071
28 September 2018
Seventy-third Session, 12th & 13th Meetings (AM & PM)

World Leaders Focus on Unilateralism, Climate Change Threats to International Peace, Security, as General Assembly Continues Debate

As the General Assembly entered the fourth day of its general debate today, world leaders once again called to the fore the threats posed by climate change and unilateralism and their impact on international peace and security, while also highlighting several successful transitions from conflict to peace as proof that diplomacy and multilateralism are effective and offer a hopeful sign for the future.

First Vice-President Taban Deng Gai of South Sudan highlighted his country’s steady march to peace and the prospect of free and fair general elections after a transitional period of 36 months.  Recalling the signing of the Khartoum Declaration of Agreement between the parties to the conflict, he said that the Government is also establishing wide-ranging mechanisms to encourage national healing.  A cross section of community representatives and mediators set up his country’s National Dialogue and “people-to-people” peace initiatives, which allowed those who had not had an opportunity before to express their opinions freely without fear of repercussions.

Leaders from several Balkan countries also spotlighted recent positive developments in their region which had seen much conflict, the embers of some which were still burning.

Prime Minister Boyko Borissov of Bulgaria, noting the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, said that, in spite of obstacles, the countries of South-Eastern Europe have managed to move forward on much debated issues, as illustrated by the signing of the agreements between Sofia and Skopje, and between Athens and Skopje.  Describing these agreements as crucial steps towards stability and security in South-Eastern Europe, as well as towards the Euro Atlantic prospects of the Western Balkans, he said they represented remarkable progress.

Echoing that stance, President Ilir Meta of Albania also lauded the recently concluded agreement between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.  Each new bilateral achievement among countries of the Balkans has the potential to become an historic achievement.  Recalling the border changes, ethnic cleansing and violent massive displacements that are part of Balkan history, he underscored the tremendous transformation the region has undergone in the last two decades, thanks to United Nations support and the serious investments of the United States and the European Union.

Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, Prime Minister of Fiji, also spoke of healing from past divisions, acknowledging that the ugly historical experience of intolerance and repression in his country had corroded peoples’ trust in each other and the nation.  Through reforms and actions, Fiji is in its ninth year of strong economic growth.  Nonetheless, the disastrous impacts of climate change are affecting the country.  Crops have been washed away and homes destroyed.  Fiji, in its fight to save the planet and its people from the catastrophic impacts of climate change, is working to be a net-zero greenhouse gas emitter by 2050, he underscored, voicing his impatience with other world leaders who proclaim their deep concern and then do little or nothing.

As well, leaders, many from small island developing States, echoed the concerns of Fiji’s Prime Minister and, as on previous days of the debate where climate change came up repeatedly, urged the international community to tackle it immediately.

“Our people are waiting, the world is watching,” Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi of Samoa said, pointing out that climate change had been the focus of his message to the Assembly over the last 21 years.  The global reach of climate change should unite the international community, he said, describing the Paris Agreement as a beacon of hope for vulnerable island States.

Mia Amor Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados, said her island State had experienced a string of cataclysmic weather events just in the last 24 hours.  “In good conscience, I cannot give the speech that I prepared”, she said, adding that she would have to cut her trip short to fly home tonight to deal with the floods.  “I ask this global community to pause.  Time is running out,” she warned.  Some have banned single use plastic and other items that pollute, but these are decisions on a national level.  “We, as a small State, are used to being treated as if we didn’t exist,” she said, urging sovereign countries to ask themselves if this is still the world that is promised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Member States must reconsider the commitment of keeping global temperature rise to below 1.5°C, because 2°C is calamitous.  She also urged for financing that speaks to the needs of small island developing States.

Prime Minister Charlot Salwai Tabimasmas of Vanuatu, the country most at risk in the world from exposure to natural disasters, emphasized that the Pacific region cannot afford to see the Paris Agreement relegated to the archives of the United Nations.  That represented a real danger for the survival of his country’s future generations.  While urging the parties to the Agreement to step up their determination, he also observed that developed counties had committed to mobilize $100 billion for climate finance for vulnerable countries by 2020, and he called for the adoption of a specific road map for the collection of those funds.

“I do not have the luxury to wait for the international system to adjust to the special needs of countries like my own while natural disasters continue to threaten and erode the gains we make,” Prime Minister Allen M. Chastanet of Saint Lucia stressed, informing the Assembly that his country had just been struck by both a hurricane and an earthquake today.  He pointed out the significant gap between the $1.3 billion pledged for reconstruction following hurricanes Irma and Maria and the actual distributed amounts.  Imagine how much better his country could do in a fair international environment, he put forth to the Assembly, cautioning that the multilateral system that had achieved the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is under threat.

Wang Yi, Minister for Foreign Affairs of China, also made a strong case for safeguarding multilateralism, lauding it as a “people-centred philosophy”.  Outlining China’s long-standing commitment to it, he recalled the negotiations on the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.  China fulfilled its promise and integrated itself into the world economic system, he said, adding that following the global financial crisis, it opted not to stand idly by but to work together with other nations.  “International trade is complementary and win-win by nature,” he said, warning against zero sum mentalities, unilateralism and protectionism “that will only hurt oneself”.

Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen of Cambodia expressed deep concern over tensions resulting from the actions of a “first world super Power” and over that State’s brash decision to withdraw from international mechanisms, adding that such actions undermine State-to-State relations.  Protectionism effectively closes the door on trade and investment, he pointed out, cautioning that unilateralism will make all countries poorer.  Underscoring the benefits of rules-based international cooperation, he urged States to maintain and strengthen the principle of multilateralism.

Several countries, however, highlighted the importance of national sovereignty and jurisdiction over pertinent issues uniquely affecting their state of affairs and posing myriad challenges to their Governments.

Hungary’s Foreign Minister, Péter Szijjártó, said his Government would not sign the Global Compact for Migration because it promotes a multicultural society over a homogeneous one.  From Hungary’s perspective, migration is a destabilizing force.  Migration is not beneficial for everyone, especially not for those countries hosting a large number of migrants from different cultures.  European Union institutions said that stopping migration was not possible, but Hungary proved them wrong by securing its borders with a €1 billion fence.  “Migration is not a fundamental human right,” he added, underscoring that violating national borders should not be considered a right.

U Kyaw Tint Swe, Union Minister for the Office of the State Counsellor of Myanmar, expressed sympathy for the displaced persons from the Rakhine region, adding:  “We have taken steps to effect the early repatriation of all displaced persons from Rakhine, who are verified as residents of the State.”  He called on Bangladesh to allow the return of verified persons under voluntary, safe and dignified conditions.  He updated Member States on recent developments, expressing concern over “premeditated and well-organized” terrorist attacks on his soil and designed to invoke fear among people.  His Government objected to the formation of a fact-finding mission due to serious and genuine concerns over its composition and mandate.  He further rejected the 6 September ruling of the International Criminal Court regarding the situation in the Rakhine State.  Myanmar is not a party to the Rome Statute, and the Court has no jurisdiction over Myanmar whatsoever, he added.

Also speaking today were Heads of State and Government, senior ministers and representatives of Guyana, Malaysia, Andorra, Mauritius, Montenegro, Russian Federation, Germany, Tunisia, Iraq, Denmark, Saint Kitts and the Nevis, Bahamas, Lesotho, Antigua and Barbuda, Republic of Moldova, Solomon Islands, Mongolia, Ireland, Saudi Arabia, Monaco, Australia, Kazakhstan, Iceland, Azerbaijan, Chad, Guinea and Libya.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of Qatar, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 9 a.m. on Saturday, 29 September, to continue its general debate.

Statements

ILIR META, President of Albania, acknowledging the need for reform in the Organization, emphasized that his country remains faithful to the fundamental principles of the United Nations.  Underscoring that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is relevant and applicable in all countries, he said the Albanian Parliament has unanimously expressed its firm commitment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  Those Goals and Albania’s European agenda are compatible and coherent with its European integration project.  Further, Albania’s development and integration strategies rest on the principles of good governance, rule of law, a competitive and sustainable economy, and the promotion and respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Regarding the ongoing peace and integration processes in the Balkans, he said every bilateral achievement among countries of that region contributes directly to increasing peace, security, stability and economic development.  The recently concluded agreement between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has the potential to become an historic achievement.  He urged all political actors in the latter country — including local Albanian leaders — to remain actively engaged by supporting a vote in favour of the agreement on the 30 September referendum.  Emphasizing the importance of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) open door policy towards the Western Balkans, he said the positive momentum in the region could nurture further progress in the European Union‑led dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia.  It is of paramount importance that this agreement fosters the European values of interethnic coexistence and harmony.

The history of the Balkans is notoriously linked to border changes, ethnic cleansing and violent massive displacements, he recalled.  Yet, in the last two decades, the region has undergone a tremendous transformation thanks to the United Nations support and involvement, and the serious political, social and economic investments of the United States and the European Union.  He said his country welcomes and encourages every effort of the United Nations Member States in continuing Kosovo’s international recognition and its membership in regional and international organizations.  Noting the stability and positive development in that country, he expressed support for a reduction of the sessions held by the Security Council on the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) reports.

He went on to express support for the Security Council resolution 2242 (2015) and a more integrated peace and security architecture, adding his vote of confidence that Secretary‑General Guterres will be able to continue working towards revitalizing the Organization’s role with a focus on peace and security.  Underlining that more than 6,500 members of the Albanian Armed Forces and civilians have participated in international peacekeeping operations since 1996, he reaffirmed his country’s pledge to continue its modest but firm contribution.  He expressed deep appreciation for the close cooperation between the United Nations and the European Union on the platform of the Common Security and Defense Policy and welcomed the leadership of the United States on the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, describing it as “a very positive step forward not only for that region but for the entire planet as well”.

However, the situation in Syria and Libya are concerning, he said, emphasizing that the crisis in Libya can only be resolved through an inclusive political dialogue between the two parties.  He reiterated his country’s support for the Global Call to Action on the World Drug Problem initiated by the United States.  Reaffirming its strong belief in multilateralism, he said Albania would seek to serve as a non‑permanent member of the Security Council for the 2022‑2023 term, adding that his country stands ready to engage constructively in conflict prevention and peace operations through the United Nations and other regional organizations.

CARL GREENIDGE, Vice‑President of Guyana, said his Government remains committed to multilateralism, a principle under attack in some parts of the world.  Threats to global multilateral governance are present in the United Nations and evidenced in stymied Security Council reform.  He urged States to explore comprehensive organizational forms and arrangements that simplify decision‑making, noting that global governance and peace are inexorably linked.  Voicing his full support for the Secretary‑General’s efforts to reform the Organization’s security pillar with an emphasis on preventive diplomacy, he said that for Guyana, and the region as a whole, the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons poses one of the most serious threats to human security and he called for international action against transnational crime.

Underscoring that the principle of sovereignty is the most effective guarantee of peace, he called attention to boundary disputes with Venezuela and the Secretary‑General’s decision to have the matter be referred to the International Court of Justice.  However, Venezuela refuses to participate in proceedings.  Guyana seeks peace not only in its region, but throughout the world.  He also stressed that conflict is an obstacle to development, calling for a two‑State solution to the Israeli‑Palestinian crisis.  The people of Palestine, including Gaza, have the right to a dignified existence in their homeland.  Turning to Myanmar, he deplored the suffering being borne by the Rohingya population.  He also called for the lifting of the embargo on Cuba.

Guyana has fully embraced the holistic and people‑centred approach to development set out in the Sustainable Development Goals, he said, adding that efforts are underway to integrate the Goals into national development strategies.  The Government is working to ensure development is not achieved at the expense of the environment.  Notwithstanding the fact that Guyana will soon become a significant oil producer, there are initiatives aimed at weaning the country from its dependence on non‑renewable energy.  He fully recognized the critical contribution of women and girls to sustainable development initiatives.  Underrepresentation of the potential of women and girls amounts to a serious loss of resources in the global effort to promote human development.

He also expressed his satisfaction at the successful conclusion this year of intergovernmental negotiations on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.  As Member States participate in this year’s General Assembly debate, the planet faces grave threats on multiple fronts and there are many that question if the United Nations can unite and strengthen international peace and security.  For its part, he emphasized Guyana’s strong commitment to doing its part to promote those principles within the limits of its capacity and resources.

TABAN DENG GAI, First Vice‑President of South Sudan, highlighted how his country is heading towards peaceful stability.  With the continued support and goodwill of regional and international partners, it was on schedule to hold free and fair general elections after a transitional period of 36 months.  The path forward began at the thirty‑first Extra‑Ordinary Summit of Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) Heads of State and Government on the Republic of South Sudan of 12 June in Addis Ababa.  They aligned the need for a High‑Level Revitalization Forum of all the parties to the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan.  This process included new stakeholders and various groups including civil society, women’s groups, religious leaders, youth and eminent personalities as observers.

He went on to say that the purpose of the Forum was threefold, including instituting a permanent ceasefire, giving fresh impetus to the inclusive implementation of the provisions of the Agreement, and agreeing on new realistic timelines and implementation schedules towards democratic elections at the end of the Transitional Period.  His Government embraced the Forum for the Agreement.  Its objectives were clearly aimed at bringing about a comprehensive and lasting peace.  The signing of the Khartoum Declaration of Agreement between the parties to the conflict took place on 27 June.  On 12 September, all parties signed the final Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan.  In addition, the Transitional Government of National Unity has embraced the Agreement’s full implementation and is ready to welcome forces from its guarantors to monitor implementation.

Along with the aim of achieving lasting peace is the establishment of mechanisms to tackle impunity and accountability, he continued.  In the recently decided Terrain case, the Government interviewed the victims in order to hold the individuals responsible to account.  With the support of the United States Government, a detailed investigation and evidence gathering process enabled victims to identify their attackers and ensure that the law was able to prosecute those accountable to the full extent possible.

As national healing is sought, President Salva Kiir has empowered a cross‑section of community representatives and mediators to set up the National Dialogue and other grassroots “people to people” peace initiatives, he noted.  The National Dialogue was launched to conduct a multi‑layered approach to repairing the social fabric.  It has been heavily criticized by some external observers, mainly because of the misconception that it was considered as a substitute to the peace talks.

However, he pointed out that that was not the case.  At the launch of the National Dialogue in 2015, its aim was to create a forum in which the causes of conflict could be discussed, and among other things to ask the people important questions such as those of national identity, governance and the relationship between the communities, including causes of intercommunal conflict.  The grassroots component has been the most effective.  The process allowed those who had not had an opportunity to have their voices heard to put across their various viewpoints.  The reports were candid in nature, as the communities were allowed to express their opinions freely without fear of repercussions.

BOYKO BORISSOV, Prime Minister of Bulgaria, stressing the central role of the United Nations in sustaining a world order based on rule of law, underscored that every country, large or small, has the responsibility to make a significant contribution towards security and prosperity in its own region.  That was exemplified by his country’s commitment to fighting the global drug problem which had led it to co‑host the recent high‑level event on that topic.  Further, the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union invested considerable efforts to achieve progress and consensus among Member States, and during its tenure, the European Union adopted the mandate to start negotiations for the signing of a new partnership agreement with 79 countries from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.

Highlighting some of the “idiosyncrasies” of his region, he said that the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War was a reminder of the importance of the Balkans and how they had often been the source of conflicts, the embers of some which were still burning.  In spite of all the obstacles before them, the countries of the South‑Eastern Europe and especially those from the Western Balkans have managed to achieve remarkable progress on much‑debated issues.  As compelling proof of that, he pointed to the recent signing of the agreements between Sofia and Skopje, and between Athens and Skopje.  These agreements are crucial steps towards stability and security in South‑Eastern Europe, as well as towards the Euro‑Atlantic prospects of the western Balkans.

Further, he said, Bulgaria, during its tenure in the Presidency of the Council of the European Union initiated a process that put the western Balkans back on the agenda of European politics.  An important and emblematic expression of this process was the Leaders’ Summit of the member States of the Union and the western Balkan countries in Sofia in May.  Connectivity in all its dimensions was the focus of the discussions, as well as the joint response of the young and relatively small Balkan states, to the common challenges faced by the international community, including irregular migration, organized crime and terrorism, hybrid threats and cybersecurity issues.

Turning to migration, he added that the refugee crises are a consequence of a myriad of political and socioeconomic factors.  Strengthening cooperation with all countries of origin, transit and destination is crucial and it is necessary to fully guarantee human rights and the sovereign rights of States to secure their borders.  The international community must pay special attention to the different dimensions of development and the integral link between development and security.  “If we do not back these efforts with active mediation and peacekeeping, and if we do not manage to resolve burning conflicts and prevent future ones, chances of success are doomed,” he cautioned.

Noting that this year marked the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, he added that his country will be presenting its candidacy for membership in the Human Rights Council.  This is not an end in itself, he stressed, but an expression of Bulgaria’s consistent policy of protection of human rights in the country and at the global level.  Seventy-five years ago, in the darkest years of the Second World War, Bulgaria’s citizens, the church, enlightened leaders and intellectuals stood up to the attempts to deport close to 50,000 Bulgarian Jews to the death camps.  That moment, he emphasized, carries a strong message relevant to the present moment and all people who feel threatened, he said, adding that it was his country’s mission to not allow the return of xenophobia.

TUILAEPA SAILELE MALIELEGAOI, Prime Minister of Samoa, pointed out that his message to the Assembly over the last 21 years has remained consistent:  climate change constitutes a huge threat to small island developing States such as his.  Action is urgently needed to mitigate that real threat, he said, adding that climate change encompasses the breadth of security issues facing the Blue Pacific region, including human, environmental and resource security, transnational crime and cybersecurity.  It affects food security, access to safe water, and fundamentally affects Samoans’ ability to draw sustenance from the pristine ocean around them, he lamented.

The global reach of climate change, he added, should unite and strengthen the international community s resolve, not weaken and divide it.  As a united community, there is a great deal it could do to arrest and even reverse climate change.  But, no one country, or single group of nations, and no single organization can solely wage and win the war against climate change.  Describing the Paris Agreement on climate change as a beacon of hope for vulnerable island States, he noted that it is based on shared responsibilities, trust, collaboration and principled action.  It demonstrates “a new brand of cooperation” and a broad outlook, that set aside the narrow pursuits of self‑interest and the use of economic and political expediencies.

For vulnerable countries, “the issue is not about setting new targets, commissioning more studies and reports or even more polite talk shops and structured dialogue sessions”, he stressed.  It is about adaptation now and long‑term survival.  The United Nations remained their best hope to provide the political will to turn the tide against climate change.  Outlining the destructive impacts of climate change that the Pacific region is already facing, he noted that cyclones, floods, droughts, sea level rise and ocean acidification are taking their toll on the health of people, environments and economies.

“Our people are waiting, the world is watching,” he said calling on each individual leader and country to raise the level of ambition, not just as an inspirational goal, but as deliverables of the Paris Agreement.  For the Pacific people, urgent, ambitious action on climate change is the only option, he underscored, welcoming the determination resonated in the Secretary‑General’s remarks earlier this month to “sound the alarm” on the need for bolder action.  These are big tasks, but when the future existence of sovereign island nations, populations and cultures is at stake, then there is a moral imperative for the world to act decisively and collectively.

Turning to the renewed geopolitical interests in the Pacific region, he said, suddenly the “Pacific is swimming in a rising tide of so‑called fit‑for‑purpose strategies stretching from the tip of Africa, encompassing the Indian Ocean and morphing us into the vast Blue Pacific Ocean continent”.  The big Powers are doggedly pursuing ways in which to widen and extend their reach, inculcating a sense of insecurity.  Noting that the renewed vigour with which a “Free and Open Indo‑Pacific strategy” is being advocated leaves the region with much uncertainty, he said there is a real risk of privileging “Indo” over the “Pacific”.  Any approach for engagement with partners must be genuine, durable and premised on understanding, and mutual benefit, he stressed.

WANG YI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of China, underscored the importance of the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter as well as the vision and practice of multilateralism.  Noting that a “people‑centred philosophy” has gained wide acceptance and broad consensus, he nevertheless warned that today the international order faces challenges and requires steady reform and improvement.  “The world is changing,” he stated, emphasizing that international rules and multilateral mechanisms are under attack and the global landscape is filled with uncertainties and destabilizing factors.

Outlining the long‑standing support of China for and commitment to multilateralism, he said the country remained true to those commitments throughout negotiations on the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.  China fulfilled its promise and integrated itself into the world economic system.  More so, following the outbreak of the global financial crisis, it opted not to stand idly by but instead to work together with other nations to overcome rough times.  “For years running, China has contributed to over 30 per cent of global growth,” he said, spotlighting its major role in helping to restore the international economy.

Vowing to continue to uphold those commitments, he also echoed President Xi Jinping’s calls to all nations to build a community with a shared future for humankind.  In order to uphold multilateralism, the international community must pursue win‑win cooperation, understanding that no country can meet global challenges alone or remain immune to their impact.  States must also act in line with rules and order, he stressed, urging inter‑State relations to be based on credibility — not wilful revocation of commitments.  Urging nations to uphold the principles of fairness and justice and aim to deliver real results, he said multilateralism requires a strong United Nations, made more efficient and effective through reforms.

“The course of development and progress for humanity is unstoppable,” he continued, underlining that peace, reconciliation and harmony are the “surging trend”.  China stands committed to the path of peaceful development and will continue to contribute to global peace and security — including by supporting diplomatic efforts on the Korean Peninsula and the nuclear programme of Iran.  Voicing support for efforts to resolve the Palestinian‑Israeli conflict and the Rohingya refugee crisis, he said terrorism — including cyberterrorism — can never be justified.  While every country is entitled to explore a development path that suits itself, economic globalization should not be a process for some to gain and others to lose.  “International trade is complementary and win‑win by nature,” he said, warning against zero‑sum mentalities, unilateralism and protectionism “that will only hurt oneself”.

CHARLOT SALWAI TABIMASMAS, Prime Minister of Vanuatu, highlighted the many achievements of the United Nations in the past seven decades, noting that extreme poverty had been reduced by half and “more girls are in school than ever before”. Women, particularly in rural areas, are contributing to the global economy and the health of mothers and children have improved.  However, overshadowing those achievements are the United Nations failures, including the inability of the Security Council to take decisive action on Syria.  Calling on that organ to demonstrate leadership in preserving global peace, he welcomed the reform efforts of the Secretary‑General.

Turning to human rights, he noted that every country must have a resilient national human rights system to achieve meaningful success in development.  The Pacific region has committed to strengthening its climate resilience.  As the earth rapidly approached a point of no return as evidenced by heatwaves, extreme droughts and the frequency of weather phenomena, it was crucial to take concerted action.  According to the World Risk Report of the United Nations University, Vanuatu is the country most at risk in the world in terms of exposure to natural disasters, which is putting tens of thousands of its citizens’ lives at risk.  If greenhouse gas emissions remain at the present level, there will be increasing costs to deal with, he cautioned.

Developed counties had committed to mobilize $100 billion for climate finance for vulnerable countries by 2020, he continued.  Yet, how this will be achieved remains unclear.  Calling for the adoption of a specific road map for the collection of those funds, he stressed, “climate change will not wait”.  In addition, more flexible access to climate funding was crucial.  The Pacific region cannot afford to see the Paris Agreement relegated to the archives of the United Nations.  That represented a real danger for the survival of their future generations.  Calling on the parties to the Agreement to step up their determination, he noted that as the largest oceanic continent, the Pacific islands are focusing on sustainable policies for the sound management and conservation of the oceans.  Welcoming proposals to support those regional efforts, he highlighted the work of the Pacific Islands Forum. 

While 750 million people from more than 80 former colonies had achieved political independence over the past seven decades, the aspirations of millions of others were still denied, he noted.  Commending the work of the Organization’s Special Political and Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee), he said that decolonization must remain on the United Nations agenda.  New Caledonia is in the process of determining its own destiny, he said, calling on the international community to support their right to participate fully in the upcoming referendum which must take place in a free and fair manner.  Further, the Human Rights Council must investigate the human rights abuses in West Papua.

Ensuring national sustainable development was a priority for his country, he said, adding that Vanuatu’s Sustainable Development Goals are people‑focused and flexible so that it could achieve a balance between the three dimensions.  Eradication of poverty is essential.  Nonetheless, the country cannot shoulder that responsibility alone.  The difficulty of that task is amplified because Vanuatu gets exposed to natural disasters in increasing number, including recent volcanic activity in one of the islands that led to evacuations.  Expressing gratitude to development partners who helped the country at this time, he noted that Vanuatu would graduate from least developed status in 2020, and asked them to continue supporting the country.

ALLEN MICHAEL CHASTANET, Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, underscored the challenges faced by small island developing States which are also middle‑income countries.  While the world acknowledges their acronyms — “SIDS” and “MICs”, small island developing States and middle-income countries, respectively — little or nothing changes.  Economically vulnerable to “de‑risking” and the loss of correspondent banking relations, unable to access concessionary financing and unfairly tarnished by tax labels, Saint Lucia struggles under the weight of international frameworks that make it difficult to chart an effective path to sustainable development or even take control of its destiny.

“I do not have the luxury to wait for the international system to adjust to the special needs of countries like my own while natural disasters continue to threaten and erode the gains we make,” he said, informing the Assembly that Saint Lucia today was struck by both a hurricane and an earthquake.  Stating that the resilience of Saint Lucians should never be used against them, he said there remains a significant gap between the $1.3 billion pledged for reconstruction following hurricanes Irma and Maria and the actual amounts that have been distributed.  Welcoming plans for a high‑level meeting during the current Assembly session on the challenges of middle‑income countries, he said he hopes it will come up with actionable solutions, but fears it will be “business as usual”.

Emphasizing that the multilateral system is under threat, he said reforming the United Nations is critical.  The international community can no longer operate within a framework of ideologies, policies, institutions and patterns of behaviour that were established a long time ago to deal with circumstances long gone.  He called for an end to the embargo on Cuba as well as an end to restrictions on the legitimate aspirations of Taiwan for observer status in key international institutions such as the World Health Organization (WHO), International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Describing the 2030 Agenda as a triumph of multilateral cooperation, he said the fulfilment of its promise will define the true measure of the collective will to develop as a global community.  In that regard, Saint Lucia will be depositing the required instrument to ratify the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol before the next Conference of the Parties to the Paris Agreement.  It will also present its voluntary national review on progress in implementing the 2030 Agenda at next year’s High‑Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.

To build peaceful, equitable and sustainable societies, small island developing States — including those that are also middle‑income countries — must look to different courses of action to address their respective development challenges, he said.  Saint Lucia has had two straight years of economic growth while increasing its tax revenue, and it is on track to attract a record level of foreign investment.  However, imagine how much better his country could do in a fair and just international enabling environment, he underscored.

MAHATHIR MOHAMAD, Prime Minister of Malaysia, said a new Malaysia emerged in May when its citizens voted to change their Government, which had been in power since independence.  That new Malaysia will firmly espouse the principles underpinning the United Nations, he said, adding that it is in that context that it will ratify all remaining United Nations human rights instruments.  Doing so will not be easy, given the country’s ethnic, religious, cultural and linguistic diversity, but time and space will be given to all to deliberate and decide freely.

He said the world is in a worse state economically, socially and politically since he last spoke before the Assembly in 2003, with the international community feeling the pain of a trade war between its two most powerful economies and terrorist activity everywhere.  Pointing to the situation in the Middle East, he said the only way to fight terrorism is to remove its root causes.  “Let the Palestinians return to reclaim their land.  Let there be a State of Palestine,” he said.

Fear of nuclear war has maintained peace in Europe and North America for more than 70 years, but conflict elsewhere has paid handsome dividends to arms traders and manufacturers, he continued.  “The arms business is now the biggest business in the world,” profiting shamelessly from death and destruction.  Turning to the situation in Rakhine state in Myanmar, he said he believed in the non‑interference in the internal affairs of nations, but questioned if independence gave a country the right to massacre its own people.

He went on to say that free trade means no protection for small countries and their infant industries, with the simple products of the poor subjected to clever barriers that prevent their sale to rich markets.  The boycott of Malaysian palm oil is depriving hundreds of thousands of people from jobs and a decent life, he pointed out, emphasizing that 48 per cent of Malaysia remains virgin jungle and that from 2020 every drop of Malaysian palm oil will be certified sustainable under a new national sustainable palm oil standard.

Turning to the Security Council, he underlined that “five countries on the basis of their victories over 70 years ago cannot claim to have a right to hold the world to ransom forever.”  Nor can they preach democracy and regime change when they deny democracy in the United Nations.  He renewed his suggestion that a Council veto require a minimum of two dissenting votes from permanent members and three from three non‑permanent members.  The Assembly would then uphold the veto with a simple majority.  Asserting that a world without the United Nations would be a disaster, he said the Organization must get sufficient funding.  “No one should threaten it with financial deprivation,” he stated.

ANTONI MARTÍ PETIT, Prime Minister of Andorra, said that 25 years ago, when his country joined the United Nations as a full member, it was a time of hope for everyone.  The fall of the Iron Curtain and the end of the cold war gave way to a wave of unprecedented democratization.  Human rights were consolidated, economies grew and inequalities were gradually reduced.  Twenty‑five years later, many of the hopes of that time have become blurred.  Freedom House has noted a constant decline in world democracy since 2006.  In its last report it noted that in 2017, only 4 out of every 10 people live in free countries.

This slow decline in democratic regimes has been accompanied by an increase in inequality, intolerance and extremism, he continued.  However, despite all the deceptions and faults, the international order should be defended because it is an order that is based on principles that are as elemental as they are universal.  Representative democracy and multilateralism are the result of common values and it is therefore not surprising that they are facing a crisis at the same time and being threatened by populism and technocracy.  In the face of complex problems, populism proposes solutions that are not really solutions because they end up creating new problems and questioning democratic principles and values.  Technocracy, in the face of complex problems, proposes solutions that are as complex as they are elitist.

The actions of the United Nations must be inclusive and focused on the real problems of people, he said.  This is why his country wants to participate in an active way in promoting and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  These objectives are focused on specific, tangible needs of the world population.  They are large, global objectives that have local applications.  If they are reached they will reinforce the bonds that are necessary between people and institutions.  Andorra presented its first Voluntary National Review at the High‑Level Political Forum in July.  Its Government has set up a campaign to involve the education community, civil society and private companies in the promotion and achievement of the various goals.

Andorra has also focused on measures to combat climate change, and support quality education, he said.  Insisting that the international community comply with the agreements and commitments made in Paris in December 2015, he added that his Government is working to fulfil the commitments of the Paris Agreement.  As far as quality education is concerned, Andorra is proud of having a rich, diverse and integrated education system that is available to all citizens.  It is a system in which families can opt for Andorran, Spanish or French education and one which prepares the nation’s young people to become citizens of a global world.

The United Nations cannot afford the luxury of disconnecting from the problems, needs, expectations and hopes of the citizens of this globalized world, he said.  Andorra offers support to the plans to reform the architecture of the United Nations that are being carried out by the United Nations Secretary‑General and his team.  A more efficient management of resources is highly necessary, particularly management that is focused on people.

JOSAIA VOREQE BAINIMARAMA, Prime Minister of Fiji, spotlighting his country’s willing and energetic contribution to United Nations peacekeeping operations, said it is also “putting every ounce of energy we have into the fight to save this planet and its people” from the catastrophic impacts of climate change.  Expressing pride in Fiji’s democratic process and its inclusive society, he highlighted its high literacy rate and strong social safety nets in particular.  Meanwhile, the Government awards micro‑business grants in order to lift people out of poverty and reward and encourage self‑reliance and entrepreneurship.

Fiji has also strengthened its independent institutions, he continued, noting that they protect consumers, fight corruption, provide legal assistance and advocate for and promote human rights.  Tolerance and personal freedom are also critical principles for the Fijian people, he said, adding that they drove its decision to seek membership on the Human Rights Council in an upcoming session.  “Fiji looks to a future free of racism, nepotism and privilege,” he said, calling for all people to be guaranteed their rights and protected by robust constitutional frameworks.

Recalling that Fiji has seen first‑hand how intolerance leads to repression, violence and mass migration, he said its own ugly historical experience corroded peoples’ trust in each other and their sense in who they were as a nation.  “We must remember it so that we do not repeat it, and we will never stop working to keep it in our past,” he said.  Today, Fiji is in its ninth year of strong economic growth, due in large part to the democracy that has taken root and is flourishing.  “When people see that they have opportunity, that they can get justice, that they can speak their minds and be heard […] they invest their money and sweat in their futures and in greater possibilities for their children,” he stressed.

However, he continued, that optimism must be nurtured and supported through intelligent Government actions.  Fiji has reformed its tax laws to make them simpler and more just and is working to ease the burden on those who have little, ensuring that everyone pays their fair share.  Also spotlighting critical Government support to small‑ and medium‑sized enterprises — resulting in explosive growth and extraordinary innovation in that sector — he went on to describe the disastrous impacts of climate change on his country.  Crops have been washed away and homes destroyed.  In that regard, he outlined national mitigation efforts, voicing impatience over other world leaders “who proclaim their deep concern […] and then do little or nothing”.  Fiji will be a net‑zero greenhouse‑gas emitter by 2050, he stressed, urging other nations to commit to the same goal.

ALEXIS TSIPRAS, Prime Minister of Greece, recalled that his country faced three overlapping international crises in recent years.  It was the country most hard‑hit by the eurozone crisis, and lost 25 per cent of its gross domestic product; it was the European country that carried the heaviest burden of the refugee crisis per capita; and it has been at the centre of a worsening destabilization in the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean.  In this context, nationalist forces became stronger, and succeeded in reframing the debate.  The question is no longer whether we can count on international institutions to solve common problems based on shared values, but rather whether these problems and values are common at all.  Yet, “not only did we manage to stay standing, overcoming these difficulties, but beyond that we became part of the solution,” he stated, stressing that his country avoided nationalist politics and resisted the directives of those who disregard the will of the Greek people to advance their own interests.

His country remained in the eurozone by carrying out tough negotiations for an economic program that centred on necessary structural reforms and eschewed the perpetuation of punitive and exhausting austerity, he continued.  Greece also protected labour rights and established a respectable minimum wage, while guaranteeing fiscal space to support the welfare State and those who are most vulnerable.  Highlighting growth rates now at 2.1 per cent and the unemployment rate’s 8 per cent fall, he emphasized that his country is becoming a regional energy, commercial and transport hub.  “We are overachieving on high budget surpluses while investors’ interest is growing steadily,” he stated.

Greece dealt with the highest refugee flows in post‑war European history while respecting international law and human rights, he said.  Without giving in to nationalist and xenophobic voices that called for push-backs, his country supported the difficult but necessary European Union‑Turkey statement, while accepting that those who do not need international protection return to transit countries where they are safe.  “The people of Greece, despite their difficulties, opened their arms to incoming migrants, showing the world what solidarity means,” he stated.  He also underlined that, while the Greek asylum authority did not exist five years ago, it deals today with the highest per capita number of applicants in Europe, adding that deaths in the Aegean have nearly reached zero and migrant flows have fallen radically.

Turning to the security crisis in his region, he pointed out that his country established trilateral schemes of cooperation with Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine.  In its difficult relations with Turkey, Greece has remained committed to the principle that cooperation and respect for international law is the only way to foster stable bilateral relations.  Stressing the need to respect international law in the Aegean Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean, he reaffirmed his full support for a just and viable solution to the Cyprus issue based on United Nations decisions.  Greece is actively promoting stability and economic growth in the Balkans through a dialogue with Albania and the Prespa Agreement with its northern neighbour, “a mutually acceptable arrangement that preserves the dignity of both sides”, he noted.

“The dilemma is not patriotism or globalism,” he went on to say.  Rather, the choice facing the international community is leaving the world to a vicious circle of national reactions and regressions that leads to tragedy, or creating the conditions for collective, progressive solutions that respect the national and popular sovereignty of each country.  “Challenges that are common by their very nature […] can only be dealt with collectively, on the basis of shared values,” he affirmed.  In that spirit, he called on international organizations to be more accountable and respond to the needs of States and citizens.  Further, he expressed support for the 2030 Agenda, the Global Compact on Migration, the Paris Agreement and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.  Stressing the need to push forward the human rights agenda, he pointed out that Greece has established citizenship for second‑generation immigrants, legal recognition of gender identity, institutionalized civil partnership and deepened rights for the Muslim community.

PRAVIND KUMAR JUGNAUTH, Prime Minister of Mauritius, declared:  “We are living in troubled times, marked by uncertainties and complex threats to peace, stability and sustainability of our planet.”  Citing increased tensions, intractable conflicts, expanding pockets of poverty, growing inequalities, the deterioration of the ocean, climate change, violent extremism and terrorism, cyberthreats, escalating militarization and forced migration, he welcomed efforts to reform the United Nations and make it fit for purpose to meet those challenges on behalf of the people it serves.

Noting that Mauritius will present its voluntary national review on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda targets during the 2019 High‑Level Political Forum held under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council, he hailed the Small Island Developing States Accelerated Modalities of Action — known as the Samoa Pathway — as a valid road map to measure how much progress has been made in addressing the special challenges facing those nations.  “The stark effects of climate change are being felt all over the world” from the United States’ states of California and the Carolinas to the Philippines, Europe, China and elsewhere.  The frequency of extreme weather events demonstrates that the impacts of climate change can affect every country on every continent, he stressed.

Warning that renewed commitments towards ambitious action are needed to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement, he said the planet’s future also depends on the ability to further protect the ocean and increase its ability to act as a buffer against climate change.  Outlining Mauritius’ efforts to combat piracy and transnational organized crime in the Indian Ocean and surrounding areas, he spotlighted his Government’s chairmanship of the Indian Ocean Commission and its close engagement with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in those efforts.

He went on to spotlight other critical global issues, including war and conflict in the Middle East, the threat posed by terrorism and the need to reinforce global non‑proliferation regimes.  “The continued existence of nuclear arsenals and the threat of a nuclear disaster represent a major impediment to the maintenance of peace and security,” he said, adding:  “We must be cautious not to undermine the multilateral system, as this has served the community of nations well.”  The United Nations was created to bring States together and it established conditions under which justice and respect for law can be maintained and strengthened.

Reaffirming his commitment to those ideas and values, he expressed Mauritius’ support for the Global Compact on migration to be endorsed in December as well as the United Nations continued decolonization efforts.  In that vein, he said the decolonization of Mauritius remains to date incomplete in view of the unlawful exclusion of the Chagos Archipelago from the country prior to its accession to independence.  Welcoming diplomatic developments in the Horn of Africa as well as signs that the continent’s overall growth is rebounding, he also reiterated calls to begin a text‑based negotiation to reform the Security Council including a permanent seat for India’s and Africa’s equitable representation.

DUŠKO MARKOVIĆ, Prime Minister of Montenegro, unequivocally confirmed his Government’s commitment to joint action within the United Nations system and welcomed the choice of this year’s General Assembly debate — “Making the United Nations relevant to all people:  global leadership and shared responsibilities for peaceful, equitable and sustainable societies”.  Joint action is essential in responding to the catastrophic consequences of terrorism, violent extremism and climate change.  To address the many challenges facing the world, United Nations reform is necessary, he said, adding that the General Debate is of paramount importance to ensure confidence in the United Nations.

Montenegro is firmly committed to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals; a process he said complements the country’s European integration efforts.  Although it is responsible for a small share of global emissions, Montenegro is committed to implementing the Paris Agreement.  The international community often falls short in preventing crime and suffering.  The situations in Syria and Myanmar point to the relevance of preventive and timely action in avoiding conflict.  States have a moral responsibility to eradicate impunity for crimes committed.  Montenegro regrets the ongoing stalemate in the resolution of the Israeli‑Palestinian conflict and the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza.  Violence resulting from conflicts in the Middle East must end immediately, he asserted, also calling for the strengthening of the United Nations prevention pillar.

Human rights violations pose a threat to democracy, the rule of law and are a step towards conflict, he said.  Seventy years since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the world is witnessing an increase in grave rights violations.  He acknowledged the role of the Human Rights Council in preventing violations, also urging that body to run more effectively and efficiently.  Significant progress has been made at the national level in the promotion and protection of the rights of women and girls, children, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.  Montenegro’s commitment to gender equality is reaffirmed by its chairmanship of the Executive Board of United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women).

Pointing to rising humanitarian challenges, he said adoption of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration will contribute to better management of migration flows and will benefit States and migrants.  Montenegro is working to improve migration‑related regulations and admits migrants and refugees into the country in line with international standards.  In the 12 years since the restoration of its independence, Montenegro has made rapid progress in the State-building process based on democratic values.  He said that as a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member, Montenegro is committed to issues of global security.  Montenegro is also a front‑runner for European Union membership and commits itself to combating crime and corruption.

He said the Western Balkans is now a better place to live than it was some 20 years ago, adding that the best future for the region is in membership to the European Union.  Montenegro continues to promote regional stability and welcomes the historic name‑change agreement between Greece and Macedonia.  Montenegro will continue to be a responsible partner to the United Nations and to contribute to tackling global challenges.  Montenegro has presented its candidacy for the upcoming Economic and Social Council, Human Rights Council and Security Council periods.

SAMDECH AKKA MOHA SENA PADEI TECHO HUN SEN, Prime Minister of Cambodia, said his country was a clear example of the successful transition from war to peace, adding that the country was enjoying the dividends of stability and rapid development.  Previously infamous for its killing fields, Cambodia is now a peaceful tourist destination and is recognized as one of the world’s fastest growing economies.  The country is governed by the rule of law and respect for multiparty, liberal democratic principles.  In July, nearly 7 million Cambodians freely cast their vote to determine their political future.  Twenty political parties participated in the election which clearly demonstrated legitimate representation of pluralistic politics.  The legitimate results of the election are not subject to question or debate, he said, adding that external ambitions to interfere in the electoral process are an assault on the will of Cambodians.

Drawing attention to the vitality of the United Nations Charter, he said it was crucial to avoid interfering in, damaging or disrupting the sovereignty of independent States.  He voiced regret that human rights have become a mission to impose specific politics and a pretext for interference by powerful nations.  As a result, sanctions have become a popular weapon among certain States.  Big countries must not attempt to install their administrative system on small countries because those small countries also possess sovereignty and legitimate aspirations. 

He voiced deep concern over tensions resulting from the actions of a “first world super-Power” and over that State’s brash decision to withdraw from international mechanisms, adding that such actions undermine State‑to‑State relations.  In an interconnected world, reverting to protectionism effectively closes the door on trade and investment, two paths to prosperity.  Unilateralism will make all countries poorer and render them unable to implement the Sustainable Development goals, he said.  With a small economy, he said that Cambodia believes in the benefits of rules‑based international cooperation, adding that global trade must not be hindered through the imposition of tariffs.  Together, States must maintain and strengthen the principle of multilateralism.

Peace without development is not sustainable, he assured, adding that the Sustainable Development Goals can guide the world towards prosperity.  The Goals are an important opportunity to mobilize efforts to reduce poverty and promote inclusive development.  The Cambodia Sustainable Development Goals will soon be approved and that will guide medium‑ and long‑term policymaking.  Conflict prevention is also a precondition for long‑lasting peace, he said, noting that United Nations peacekeeping efforts play a vital role in global peace efforts.  Cambodia welcomes the Secretary‑General’s vision for the Organization’s peacebuilding and peacekeeping initiatives and his focus on conflict prevention.

Terrorism represents a severe and complicated threat and a barrier to long‑lasting peace, he said.  Terrorist groups disintegrate communities, worsen conflict and weaken the stability of whole regions.  As terrorists turn to cyberspace, counter‑terrorism efforts are forced to become more complex and go through modernization efforts.  The cross‑border nature of terrorism requires States to foster concerted cooperation initiatives that include preventive measures.  Climate change is another threat standing in the way of implementation of the 2030 Agenda.  He pointed to the Paris Agreement as the foundation for action on climate change and asserted Cambodia’s commitment to participate in climate‑related mechanisms.  Cambodia fully supports United Nations global leadership and commits itself to implementing its shared responsibility to build a peaceful and equitable world, he stated.

SERGEY V. LAVROV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said that, on one hand, there is the strengthening of the steady development of new centres of economic growth, and the aspirations of people to preserve sovereignty and choose development models that are consistent with their national, cultural and religious identities, among others.  On the other hand, several western States want to retain their self‑proclaimed status as world leaders.  These Powers do not hesitate to use any methods, including political blackmail, economic pressure and brute force, while calling into question the legal validity of international treaties.  Such Powers declare the priority of self‑serving unilateral approaches over decisions taken in the framework of the United Nations.  Attacks have been launched against the basic principles of the Middle East settlement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the commitments within the World Trade Organization framework and many more.

Commenting on the situation in the Middle East, among other things he stressed that the seven‑year conflict in Syria is a failed attempt of a regime‑change orchestrated from the outside which, relying on the extremists, has almost resulted in the disintegration of the country and the emerging of a terrorist caliphate instead.  The energetic actions by his country in response to the request of the Syrian Government, supported by the diplomatic steps in the framework of the Astana process helped to prevent this fatal scenario.  The Congress of the Syrian National Dialogue, initiated by his country, Iran and Turkey has created the conditions for a political settlement on the basis of Security Council resolution 2254 (2015).  This is the basis for the “Inter‑Syrian Constitutional Committee” that is currently being established in Geneva.  Its agenda includes the restoration of destroyed infrastructure to facilitate the return of millions of refugees to their homes.

The growth of radical nationalism and neo‑fascism in Ukraine, where criminals who fought under SS [Nazi Germany’s Schutzstaffel] banners have been declared heroes, is one of the main factors in the protracted intra‑Ukrainian conflict, he continued.  The only way to settle the conflict is to ensure a comprehensive and consistent implementation of the Minsk Package of Measures approved by the Security Council.  His Government supported the activities of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Mission in Ukraine and is ready to provide its observers with United Nations protection.  Instead of implementing the Agreements, Kyiv holds on to the hope that it might be able to bring occupying forces to Donbass with the support of the West.

It has been 20 years since his country initiated the discussion on cyberspace abuses and international information security at the United Nations, he recalled.  Against the background of recent developments, it is becoming even more relevant to elaborate under the auspices of the United Nations a set of global norms of responsible behaviour of States in the information space, including the principles of non‑use of force, non‑interference in internal affairs, and respect for State sovereignty.

HEIKO MAAS, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, said that the current crisis of multilateralism makes the many conflicts around the world appear unresolvable.  However, Germany’s post‑war success story is evidence of the success of multilateralism.  Its neighbours and the United States played a crucial role in Germany’s recovery.  “We believe in the United Nations because international cooperation changed our own fate for the better,” he said.  Multilateralism and sovereignty are not a contradiction in terms, he said.  In fact, sovereignty can only be safeguarded when countries work together.  If the United Nations community does not act to fulfil its Charter, to protect the freedom and dignity of all, especially marginalized people, the founding principles will be meaningless, he said. 

As an incoming non-permanent member of the Security Council, Germany will be motivated by these principles, he said, also calling for more inclusion and diverse representation on the Council.  The conflict in Syria is an example of the need for multilateralism, he pointed out, emphasizing the importance of fulfilling the Turkey–Russian Federation agreement to create a demilitarized zone in Syria’s Idlib region.  Free and fair elections must be held in Syria, after which his country is willing to help with reconstruction.  “However, there is one line we will not cross – we will not become accomplices to a regime that has forfeited its political legitimacy,” he said.  As the second‑largest donor to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Germany will give another 116 million euros – half the requisite amount — to help Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon, he said, calling on other Member States to increase their donations. 

Turning to the conflict in Ukraine, he said Germany is working with that country, France and the Russian Federation to implement the Minsk agreements aimed at maintaining the ceasefire and that discussions about creating a United Nations mission in eastern Ukraine continue.  Warning Member States of the dangers of a “multipolar” arms race, he called on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to follow up its words with deeds and reaffirmed his country’s commitment to the Iran nuclear deal and to maintaining economic exchanges with Iran.  The United Nations must tackle the root causes of conflict, including climate change.  “Action based solely on nationalism, with the objective of putting ‘my country first’ reaches its limits here,” he said, affirming his commitment to the Paris Agreement and calling on the Security Council to make climate change a priority.  He called for a “quantum leap” in post‑conflict peacebuilding and said Germany would give at least €25 million to the Peacebuilding Fund this year.  He demanded accountability for human rights violations including the use of chemical weapons and called the International Criminal Court indispensable because of the message it sends to victims and their perpetrators that justice will prevail.

KHEMAIES JHINAOUI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Tunisia, voiced support for efforts to render the United Nations better able to confront modern‑day challenges, build peace and security, and promote sustainable development.  Those issues are a common responsibility of all people, he stressed, spotlighting the need to address conflict hotspots, bridge inequality and shore up efforts to combat terrorism and organized crime.  Promoting human rights is also critical, he said, voicing support for the Secretary‑General’s major reform proposals in management, peace and security, and development – as well as for financial support to those reforms by all nations and the strengthening of the General Assembly’s role.

Tunisia continues to enhance its democratic governance and build up its national institutions, he said, noting that 2018 saw further steps to fight corruption and enhance good governance.  Municipal elections were successfully held with the strong participation of women and youth.  Noting that Tunisia views the protection and promotion of the human rights of all its citizens as one of its international obligations, he described the establishment of a new committee to promote the empowerment of women.  Achieving economic reform and civic peace also requires the strong inclusion of young people, the continuation of reforms, accelerating the country’s growth rate, creating job opportunities and encouraging investment.

Despite recent regional developments and their impacts on Tunisia, there have been strides in each of those areas, he said.  For example, the tourism sector has been recently revitalized and is drawing new foreign investment.  Underlining the importance of partnerships with neighbours in the region as well as States around the world, he said such cooperation will promote all their interests.  Noting that terrorism is one of the gravest challenges facing both his country and the international community as a whole, he expressed support for the United Nations Office of Counter‑Terrorism and other global efforts to combat that phenomenon.  “Facing up to extremist ideologies and immunizing societies – especially youth – from the currents of terrorism is extremely important to us,” he said, voicing particular support for information sharing among States and for national efforts to strengthen security while fully respecting human rights and the rule of law.

Meanwhile, he said, the phenomenon of migration remains both an important exchange between nations as well as a global challenge.  Calling for efforts to address the root causes of today’s forced migration - including exploitation, poverty and the absence of sustainable development – he said the two compacts on migration slated to be finalized in Morocco in December should become road maps forward on that critical issue.  He said that while he understands some States’ apprehension, extreme ideas around the issue of migration must be avoided.  He voiced support for the plight of the Palestinian people, the two‑State solution and the work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), while also expressing concern about the situation in Libya and other parts of the African continent.  Furthermore, he underlined his country’s readiness to take up a non‑permanent seat on the Security Council from 2020 to 2021.

IBRAHIM ABDULKARIM AL-JAFARI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iraq, recalled that four years ago he stood at the podium to share an overview of the situation in his country, a third of which was occupied by ISIL/Da’esh with millions killed or expelled.  “This could have been a historic catastrophe from which we might never have recovered,” he said.  Instead, Iraqis stood together behind their faith and rose up to liberate their land.  Thanking the United Nations for standing beside Iraq during that dark time, he said ISIL “is now breathing its last breath” in Syria before being snuffed out.  Iraq is now working to help those returning home and to strengthen its State institutions.  It has joined the club of democratic nations, built on an inclusive, constitutional consensus. 

Urging countries to fulfil the financial commitments made to his country during a recent donor conference in Kuwait, he said “this is a new chapter in Iraq’s story”.  A national economic, social and cultural plan is in place – with a focus on young people and women – in order to reduce unemployment, provide job opportunities, protect diversity and combat extremist narratives.  Welcoming the work of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) as well as the Special Envoy of the Secretary‑General, he said displaced persons are being helped to return, while evidence of war crimes is being collected and those responsible will be held accountable.

The international community should continue to stand with Iraq, he stressed, voicing support for the universalization of all disarmament conventions and a strengthening of the global non‑proliferation regimes.  Iraq suffered greatly from the use of weapons of mass destruction, namely chemical weapons, during its dictatorship.  Moreover, peace will not be possible in the Middle East until Israel completely withdraws from the Occupied Palestinian Territory and an independent Palestinian State is established.  Condemning the United States recent decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem – which he said will only further complicate the situation – he also warned against the unilateral imposition of sanctions that only hurt civilians, as was long felt first‑hand in Iraq.

Turning to Syria, he called for a balanced political solution that will allow for an end to the long‑standing bloodbath as well as attempts to impose a military solution.  In Yemen, all external meddling must cease, he said, rejecting the presence of fighters from Turkey and calling on the latter to end its violations of the sovereignty of neighbouring States.  Rejecting statements made by the Minister of the Zionist entity - who attempted in his speech to justify an attack on Iraqi sovereignty - he said Iraq will remain a cradle of peace and diversity.  “We are proud of our society and our history,” he concluded.

ULLA TØRNÆS, Minister for Development Cooperation of Denmark, said the world needs a strong United Nations that delivers on its full potential.  She called for the Secretary‑General’s reform agenda to be turned into reality.  All parts of the Organization must embrace the opportunity to change.  Member States must reinvest in the United Nations and take responsibility for multilateral cooperation and rule‑based international order, she said, noting Denmark’s candidature for a seat on the Human Rights Council for the 2019‑2021 term.

Gender equality is but a distant hope in several parts of the world and women’s rights are under increasing pressure everywhere, she said.  “We cannot accept this.  We must stand up and challenge this,” she said, emphasizing that gender equality and equal opportunities are not only fundamental rights, but preconditions for development, peace and prosperity everywhere in the world.

She underscored Denmark’s commitment to the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement, emphasizing that for more than 40 years it has delivered on the United Nations target of providing 0.7 per cent of gross national income in official development assistance (ODA).  “Sadly, we are in a group that has too few members,” she said.  She stressed the role to be played by young people, as well as the importance of education for girls.  She welcomed the finalization of a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, as well as the Global Compact on Refugees, and described the horrors in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere as examples of why humanitarian efforts are so strongly needed.

Denmark insists on accountability for the most appalling crimes in conflict situations, she said.  The report of the Independent International Fact‑Finding Mission on Myanmar underlined the need for accountability vis‑à‑vis the Rohingya crisis alongside the enormous need for humanitarian and development assistance.  In that regard, she announced an additional $7 million in extraordinary humanitarian assistance to that crisis, on top of the $46 million already provided since 2017.  She went to call on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to take concrete steps towards denuclearization.  Until then, sanctions and international pressure must continue, she said.

TIMOTHY S. HARRIS, Prime Minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis, called for urgent reforms to make the United Nations more responsive to the needs and concerns of Member States, particularly small island developing States.  Though it is the smallest country in the Western Hemisphere, Saint Kitts and Nevis has made significant progress in the areas of poverty alleviation, free education and affordable health care.  All those gains can be erased, however, by climate change, he said, calling on those States that participated in the United Nations high-level pledging conference following hurricanes Irma and Maria to make good on their outstanding commitments.  States must also commit to reducing harmful emissions into the environment, he said, expressing regret that nations like his must pay dearly for a debt they did not create.

Emphasizing that climate change poses an existential threat to small island developing States, he wondered when the United Nations will help the Caribbean region to address the prevalence of sargassum seaweed, which is having an impact on fisheries and tourism.  Welcoming funding mechanisms to help highly vulnerable small island developing States, he said they must be transparent and easily accessible, with donor countries fulfilling their commitments.  That said, the international community cannot claim to help those States, on the one hand, then classify them as middle- and high‑income countries based on archaic financial models that deny them critical development assistance and hinder investment financing.

He went on to say that an unfair financial architecture, including the threat of de‑risking and loss of correspondent banking relationships, is thwarting development in small States.  That is compounded by the blacklisting of countries forced to divert scarce resources to comply with the onerous demands of the European Union Council’s Code of Conduct Group, among others.  It is unfair to subject some countries to evaluation and ever‑fluctuating standards while others are exempt, he said, calling on the United Nations to bring the plight of small States like his to the forefront of international debate and end such discriminatory practices.

He added that the Caribbean is suffering from an increase in crime related to the trade in small arms, light weapons and drugs.  Such weapons flow into the region, where they are not manufactured, and they are linked to an insatiable appetite for drugs in the West, he said, calling for international assistance to address that scourge and emphasizing his country’s commitment to the Arms Trade Treaty.  Turning to health issues, he said eight out of 10 deaths in the Caribbean can be attributed to non‑communicable diseases, with hypertension being the leading risk factor for death.  “We are facing [a non‑communicable diseases] crisis in our region,” he said, reminding the Assembly that non‑communicable diseases and climate change are two sides of the same coin — “symptoms of the failure of the extant development paradigm”.

Affirming his country’s commitment to the 2030 Agenda, he said Taiwan should be given space to participate in international dialogue and development strategies.  He called for the normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States, as well as peaceful dialogue to resolve rule of law and democracy issues in Venezuela.

HUBERT ALEXANDER MINNIS, Prime Minister of the Bahamas, said that although the United Nations is unquestionably relevant to the global community, it is imperative to strive to achieve more.  Climate change is a clear and present danger to all, but especially low‑lying coastal nations like the Bahamas, as witnessed in rising sea levels, loss of coral reefs, increased ocean acid volume and more severe, frequent hurricanes and typhoons. 

He recalled that his Government evacuated residents from southern islands to prevent loss of lives as Hurricane Irma approached.  While there were no fatalities in the Bahamas, “our southern neighbours were not as fortunate”, and he therefore fully supports the Secretary‑General’s plan for a Climate Summit next year.  Such discussions must generate more energy and resources to build the resilience and sustainability of island and coastal nations.  He said the consecutive damage of major hurricanes has made it difficult to rebuild the Bahamas, an archipelago stretching some 600 miles from north to south, requiring them to replicate infrastructure many times with limited resources.  While delivering humanitarian aid is essential, so is a comprehensive approach to sustainable development to address disaster risk reduction and the viability of seas and oceans for posterity.

Tourism is the world’s largest industry and the lifeblood of the Bahamian economy, he said, with millions of annual visitors.  To protect its waters and biodiversity, the Bahamas will ban single‑use plastics by 2020.  Looking forward to the successful review of the Samoa Pathway, he will also advocate an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction.

He noted that the Bahamas and its neighbours are “being beaten twice”:  while island nations are not primarily responsible for the climate change which results in hurricanes, when they borrow internationally to restore basic human infrastructure, their debt‑to‑gross domestic product (GDP) ratio rises.  Calling for the United Nations to facilitate international dialogue for a workable solution, he also pointed to “the distorted matrix of GDP per capita as a measurement of national wealth and viability” that causes the Bahamas to be assessed more favourably than it should for contributions to international organizations, and when international aid is needed when disaster strikes.  Further afield, he reaffirmed support for Cuba to access resources to rebuild after disasters.  Highlighting an uphill battle to avoid blacklisting as a non‑cooperative jurisdiction for tax purposes, he stated the country remains committed to international tax transparency and cooperation, regulatory standards and doing business in a fair, competitive manner.

In keeping with the Sustainable Development Goals, his Government seeks to revitalize urban centres with economic and poverty alleviation initiatives.  As a member of the Council of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the Bahamas has presented candidature for re‑election to Category “C” and intends to continue working for safe and secure shipping and preventing marine pollution by maritime vessels.  Although the Bahamas’ geographical location has made it particularly vulnerable to illegal migration, he stated the country will continue to fight it while adhering to human rights principles.

THOMAS MOTSOAHAE THABANE, Prime Minister of Lesotho, said the centrality and relevance of the United Nations cannot be challenged, from feeding over 104 million people in more than 80 countries annually, assisting millions of refugees, protecting women and children, fighting poverty and HIV and AIDS, and through peacekeeping.  The Organization had also worked with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and African Union to help Lesotho change its trajectory of instability and volatility and enact a comprehensive national reform agenda.  He said his Government aims to “transform the Mountain Kingdom into a just, prosperous and stable country”.

He noted the important role of financing to achieve the goals of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and Agenda 2030.  While acknowledging that ODA remains a catalyst, he advocated for robust domestic resources mobilization, while providing space for private sector investment.  The launch of an industrial hub in the north of Lesotho will eventually create 14,000 jobs.

Turning to migration, he said it offered opportunities to explore skilled and surplus labour.  His Government is working with international partners and has established a National Consultative Committee to develop a strategic plan on the issue.  He said plans include interventions related to the diaspora, as it is disturbing to see migrants worldwide facing challenges of unprecedented magnitude, and called on the international community to adhere to the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.  Peace and prosperity are impossible when women and girls are marginalized; their role in advancing the global development agenda must be enhanced.  It is equally important to avoid politicizing or redefining the protection of human rights or allowing the whims of a few powerful States to subject them to double standards.

Turning to Africa, he said the continent is more determined than ever to settle conflicts peacefully.  Pointing to the peace deal in South Sudan, he noted developments in the Horn of Africa offer hope for a prosperous, peaceful region.  Ethiopia and Eritrea have normalized relations, opening embassies in their respective capitals to usher in a new era of peace with concomitant economic, humanitarian and strategic implications.  However, the situation in Western Sahara, the only colony in Africa, is saddening.  Lesotho stands with the suffering Saharawi people.  Highlighting worsening situations in Syria, Iraq and Palestine, he called a two‑State solution the only viable option.  He also appealed for the embargo on Cuba to be lifted, reintegrating the country into the world trading system.

Stating that it is “indefensible and incomprehensible that decisions which bind us all are left in the hands of a few Member States”, he called for reform of the Security Council to take into account African aspirations as espoused in the Ezulwini Consensus.  Of equal importance, gains made in disarmament are being eroded, with small arms and light weapons flooding the market.  He noted the re‑emergence of the threat of weapons of mass destruction has left the United Nations paralyzed due to the size and power configuration of the Security Council, making the call for reform even more urgent.

GASTON ALPHONSO BROWNE, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, emphasizing that a few privileged nations are making decisions that impact the lives of billions of people, said the General Assembly must be revitalized to become a place for action and results.  For years, it has been marginalized by the Security Council and the notion that a small group of powerful nations should make decisions for the rest of the world.  Until the Assembly is made relevant, the actions of the Council and other organizations will be endured but not embraced, accepted but not respected, and enforced but not legitimized.

He said that, as leader of Antigua and Barbuda, he puts its interests first.  However, it would be foolhardy to stand up only for his country.  Such a dog‑eat‑dog policy, if practiced by every nation, would result in short‑term gains for rich countries and, ultimately, losses for all.  “Loyalty to myopic, nationalistic ideals cannot trump patriotism to our common humanity,” he said, emphasizing that peace, security and prosperity can only be achieved through international teamwork.

He called for the Caribbean to be recognized as a zone of peace, stating that for too many centuries, it has been a place for other people’s conflicts and ambitions.  “We want no more to be the theatre of proxy wars by others,” he said.  Welcoming the recent visit to Havana by the Chair of the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he said it is time for the United States Congress to lift the trade embargo, thus putting Cuba’s talents in medicine, the arts, music and education at the disposal of all humanity.

He went on to say that when the Assembly debates the responsibility to protect, bellicose talk of military intervention must be discouraged.  When the United Nations decides that democracy and human rights are emasculated by tyranny, then it must collectively agree upon the action to be taken.  Turning to trade, he said the WTO is not perfect, but walking away from it or breaking it down will only destabilize the global trading system.  Fifteen years after winning a WTO arbitration case, he added, his country still awaits compensation from the United States.

Injury to small island developing States in the Caribbean and Pacific due to climate change is continuing without compensation, causing their economies to decline, creating internal refugees, scaring away investment, escalating insurance costs and increasing debt levels, he said.  With donors having delivered less than half of the pledges they made after Hurricanes Irma and Maria, reconstruction is far from complete.  “The problem is global and the solution is global,” he said, urging a global policy dialogue integrating environment with development on the fundamental understanding that every country must do its part to combat climate change.

PAVEL FILIP, Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova, welcomed the reforms of the Secretary‑General in the face of current global challenges and transformation.  By repositioning the United Nations development system, they will be effectively contributing to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, a United Nations milestone.  For the reforms to yield results, transparent and constructive dialogue between United Nations management and Member States will have to be sustained, he stressed, arguing the private sector will also need to be more actively involved in achieving sustainable development at the global, regional and national levels.

His vision for a new development strategy called “Moldova 2030”, including the Moldova–European Union Association Agreement, focuses on well‑being and human rights, environmental protection and cultivating an inclusive society.  Concerns such as improving road infrastructure; connectivity and mobility of people; goods and services; innovation and technology; and the elimination of corruption are part of a recent ambitious national programme, he said, noting the agreement with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development towards the integration into the European energy market.  Energy independence is crucial for his country’s social stability, he added.

While pointing out the persisting deficiencies in United Nations security, he emphasized that efficiency and relevance of the Organization can be fully achieved only through internal restructuring of its Secretariat.  He regretted the delay of reforms in the Security Council, given its inability to take effective measures in violent conflicts around the world, thus raising a legitimate question about its relevance as a decisional organ for international security.  He also advocated for the allocation of an additional non‑permanent seat for the Eastern European group of countries.

Referring to challenges to sovereignty, territorial integrity and national security, he highlighted the continued presence of the Russian military forces and armaments on the territory of the Republic of Moldova as a grave breach of international law and the United Nations Charter.  He welcomed an Assembly resolution stating the Russian Federation’s non‑compliance to withdraw its military forces as a clear violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity of his nation.  The joint military exercises of the Operational Group of Russian Forces, illegally on Moldovan soil, violate the 1992 Moldovan‑Russian Ceasefire Agreement, he stressed, noting that the increased exercises undermine international efforts aimed at the peaceful resolution of the protracted Transnistrian problem.  In addition, he expressed deep concern that these exercises run contrary to the Russian Federation’s obligation in the framework of the “5+2” international settlement format, appealing to Moscow to discontinue those illegal and provocative activities and to resume unconditionally to withdraw its troops in line with the 1999 Istanbul Summit Outcome Document.

Turning to the application of the Association Agreement with the European Union, he expressed his aim to bring his nation closer to the European Union and ensure the sustainability of the modernization process, pointing to many collaboration opportunities within the Eastern Partnership such as free trade zones, political dialogue and intersectoral cooperation.  He stressed that economically the Association Agreement is a big step forward with the European Union being the main trading partner, adding that its implementation is the best and most viable option towards delivering prosperity and sustainable development to the Republic of Moldova.

MIA AMOR MOTTLEY, Prime Minister of Barbados, began by talking about the string of cataclysmic weather events of the last 24 hours:  tropical storm Kirk that hit Barbados and Saint Lucia, the earthquake that impacted Martinique, Dominica and Guadalupe; the earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia; and an impending typhoon in Japan.

“In good conscience, I cannot give the speech that I prepared,” she said, noting that she was cutting her trip short to fly home tonight to deal with the floods at home.  “Some wish that I would speak on denuclearization or non‑communicable diseases, or other [issues],” she said, but added that now the world is beginning to understand the impacts of climate change.  “I ask this global community to pause.  Time is running out,” she said, referring to taking concrete action on climate change.  She added that yes, we have banned single‑use plastic and other items that pollute, but these are decisions on a national level.  We can try to ensure fossil fuels are phased out by 2030, but this is against a background that is not putting mechanisms in place.  “What does this mean to those who are relying on a green climate fund, but the capacity is simply not there?” she said, calling on all people of the world to look after one another.

“We, as a small State, are used to being treated as if we didn’t exist,” she said, adding that it is as if you can just cut off a region.  She urged sovereign countries to ask themselves if this is still the world that is promised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Underscoring the need for small States to have a corridor of stability to withstand the shocks of climate change, she noted the importance of the United Nations as a multilateral body.  “It matters.  It protects the small and constrains the large.  When you take away multilateralism, who will hear us?”

But what is clearly required is behavioural change, she said, adding that we ask ourselves why we must come here year after year and speak about the embargo of Cuba again and again, as if it is pro forma.  We speak about territorial disputes but see no gain.  “It cannot be alright with the issue of climate change, because this is a matter of life or death,” she said.  She called for a reconsideration of the commitment of keeping global temperature rise to below 1.5°C, because 2°C is calamitous, she said, adding that the world needed financing that speaks to the needs of small island developing States.

Our principles must remain constant, she said, adding that:  “What happened in the last 24 hours is not a science fiction movie.  We must have caring and empathy,” she urged, asking for the world to pause and get this one right.  “It is not about Governments anymore, it is about people,” she said.

RICKY NELSON HOUENIPWELA, Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, said implementing the Sustainable Development Goals requires a unified global partnership, one which recognizes that together the world can conquer the inequities of today.  However, the very foundation and strengths of multilateralism are currently being challenged and undermined by unilateral posturing and insular policies that have seen some countries reverse their commitments to international agreements.  Yet, the United Nations allows its membership to consolidate collective resolve to achieve progress in all fields.

Citing examples of national progress on reaching the Goals, he said Solomon Islands completed a midterm review of the Samoa Pathway and has met two of three criteria for graduation from the group of least developed countries.  Yet, as a post‑conflict State, his country will require prudent macroeconomic and finance policies to maintain threshold indicators.  Expressing hope the General Assembly will grant Solomon Islands an opportunity to assess the potential impact of graduating from the group, he said a predictable, workable strategy would put the country on a continued upward trajectory.  Calling on the United Nations for support during these processes, he noted with pleasure that a special task force has been established to ensure a smooth transition.

Raising climate change concerns, he called for collective global leadership and strengthened commitment towards the forthcoming twenty‑fourth session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to be held in Poland.  For its part, Solomon Islands remains committed to transitioning to renewable energy use and is, through partnerships, completing infrastructure projects and cooperating with other nations on a range of development programmes.  Goal‑related efforts also include ocean management, developing an ocean policy and subscribing to the Blue Pacific Initiative, which sets the context for developing regional priorities.

Given the increasingly complex global security threats, he said, working together is more important than ever.  Highlighting progress on the Korean Peninsula, he said efforts must now focus on achieving stability in the Middle East and peacefully settling the Israeli‑Palestinian conflict.  Noting the Pacific Islands Forum’s outcome document on the region’s shifting security landscape, he expressed support for United Nations peacekeeping operations.  Having benefited from the Peacebuilding Fund in 2017, Solomon Islands has facilitated dialogue with stakeholders on key issues.  Recognizing the ever‑changing global security situation, he reiterated a call to reform the Security Council, adding that the small island developing States must have a voice through a dedicated non‑permanent seat.

Turning to other threats, he said action is urgently needed to address non‑communicable diseases, which cause almost 80 per cent of all deaths in the region and are placing a heavy burden on health‑care systems.  On other issues, he called for the United Nations to recognize Taiwan as a Member State and pledged his Government’s commitment to work with Indonesia on areas of mutual interest, including human rights concerns in Papua and West Papua.  To address national challenges, the Government passed anti‑corruption and whistle‑blower‑protection legislation and is committed to holding free and fair elections in 2019.  “Without the United Nations, as a small island country, we will not be able to be heard,” he said, expressing ardent support for multilateralism.  “The United Nations has flaws, but Solomon Islands continues to feel the impact of the power of working together on global issues.”

KHURELSUKH UKHNAA, Prime Minister of Mongolia, noted that today we are living in a flat, globalized, and interrelated world where our life is digitized, and life is greatly shaped by technological progress.  Despite these developments, we encounter conflicts, poverty, hunger and inequality.  In that vein, Mongolia supports reform initiatives in the peace architecture, aimed at ensuring stronger prevention and mediation.  Referring to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute report, world military expenditure is estimated to have reached $1.7 trillion in 2017, the highest level since the cold war.  The armaments race is not declining, and the use of technological advancements in armed conflicts is making the circumstances more dangerous than ever, he noted, citing Mongolia’s initiatives proving its contributions to peace and security, including bringing hundreds of orphans from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to Mongolia after the Korean War.

Addressing security issues in North‑East Asia, he said it is a foreign policy priority as it directly impacts Mongolia’s security.  He welcomed the recent positive developments on the Korean Peninsula and said that his country has, since the 1980s, consistently pursued the policy of launching a dialogue mechanism in North‑East Asia.  The dialogue is now transforming into an open and inclusive mechanism gathering both Government officials and academia from all countries in the subregion.  Asia is one of the most disaster‑prone regions in the world.  Within this framework, the country put forward an initiative to establish the Northeast Asia Disaster Risk Reduction Platform in Mongolia.

Moving on to the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, he noted that Mongolia has made remarkable achievements in the field of promotion and protection of human rights, and that his country is currently on the Human Rights Council.  He noted everyone is entitled to a social and international order in accord with the rights and freedoms set forth in the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants.  Stressing the issue within his own country, he noted Mongolia is experiencing a high volume of internal and external migration due to unemployment and poverty.  This includes a large movement of citizens from the countryside to cities begun in the 1990s — and as of 2017, 45 per cent of the total population lives in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar.  This results in social ramifications such as poverty, unemployment, poor access to health‑care services and air pollution.

He said that citizens of Mongolia are highly educated, but the pupil‑classroom ratio in schools and in kindergarten has decreased together with the population density in rural areas; however, the case is opposite in the urban centres.  Thus, Mongolia is planning and implementing policies and programmes that address the challenges faced by the capital city by 2030.  This includes addressing a shortage of kindergartens, as well as 30 schools in suburbs functioning in three shifts.  He noted other issues such as air pollution, as well as the number of unemployed people in Ulaanbaatar, which accounts for one third of the national unemployment rate.

On climate change, he noted the daunting challenge for humanity that goes hand in hand with peace, security and development issues.  His country welcomes and supports the Secretary‑General’s timely initiative to convene a climate summit in September 2019.  He stressed that climate change most impacts the least developed countries, landlocked developing nations and small island developing States.  In that regard, he highlighted the initiative and leadership of Mongolia, as the International Think Tank for Landlocked Developing Countries has been established in Ulaanbaatar and operationalized in May.  The Think Tank represents 32 landlocked developing countries and will conduct policy research and implement projects to address common challenges.  Noting the issue of water that is being addressed this week, during the United Nations Climate Week, Mongolia’s delegation launched a documentary titled Blue Gold, which shows the devastating impact of climate change on the country.

SIMON COVENEY, Deputy Prime Minister of Ireland, said his country was honoured to have been asked to co‑facilitate the consultative process to produce the political declaration adopted at the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit and encouraged Member States to use that event as a motivating force to renew efforts to work for a culture of peace, tolerance and human dignity.  He said that given Ireland’s large diaspora population, the Irish know well that today’s challenges do not respect geographic boundaries, and are guided by a sense of shared responsibility.

The United Nations has played a major part in Ireland’s development, he said.  “We not only support a fair rules‑based order in international affairs — we exist, survive and prosper because of it.”  He called for global outward‑looking leadership which galvanizes global support through strength of argument, fearing that without such leadership the powerful will dominate and decisions will no longer be based on the strength of argument.  While Ireland does not wish for any diminution in the role played by the leading actors of the United Nations, he said the Organization’s foundations will crumble without inclusivity and welcomed the Secretary‑General’s steps on reform.  However, reforms should go beyond the managerial and structural level, he said, also calling to increase the size of the Security Council to better represent all areas of the world.  In particular, the unjust under‑representation of Africa needs to be addressed, he said, also advocating for a designated role for small island developing States given the climate change threat they face.  Political reform of the Council will lead to a greater sense of participation and ownership among Member States, he said.

He went on to say that progress in international criminal justice has provided a shift towards global accountability, recalling that Ireland ratified the Amendments to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court on the crime of aggression earlier this month and lodged the instrument of ratification with the Secretary‑General on 27 September.  He emphasized the need to remain steadfast in the pursuit of the elimination of nuclear weapons and called on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to abide by its obligations.  Ireland remains committed to United Nations peacekeeping with large Irish contributions to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and is the highest per capita European Union contributor of peacekeeping troops in general.

Regarding the migration crisis, a huge majority of those displaced are being sheltered in already vulnerable countries, he said, acknowledging the burden on many States and in particular Bangladesh, and pledging his country’s support to refugees and host communities.  While acknowledging the current situation in the Middle East serves neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians, the burden of occupation is the heavier one, he said, citing continued settlement construction as an existential threat to the two‑State solution.  The situation in Gaza is untenable, he continued, calling for an end to the blockade there and pledging his country’s continued support of UNRWA.  He greatly regretted the recent cuts to its funding by the United States and urged those in power to reconsider their decisions as those cuts will only be seen as collective punishment, thus empowering radicals and destabilizing moderates.  In closing, he reiterated Ireland’s candidacy for a seat on the Security Council in the 2020 elections, saying that his country will act as bridge‑builders there, committed to hearing all voices with no partisan agenda.

ADEL AHMED AL-JUBEIR, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia, said his country is focusing on a peaceful solution to conflict, undertaking various mediation efforts.  The peace agreement reached between Ethiopia and Eritrea should be deemed historic and essential.  “This illustrates the political and critical role played by Saudi Arabia in the advancement of international peace and security,” he said.  Turning to the rights of the Palestinian people, he underscored their right to an independent State, and the need to respect relevant Security Council resolutions.

On the conflict in Yemen, he said that Houthi militia continue to manufacture missiles and carry out activities that destabilize the region.  He stressed the need for a political solution to the crisis in Yemen.  Saudi Arabia will continue to facilitate all humanitarian efforts to alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people, he added, underscoring that his nation provides economic support and essential supplies to Yemen.

Terrorism and extremism are major challenges facing the world, he continued, also adding:  “Our region has never been spared.”  The Kingdom has set up institutions to oversee the fight against terrorism and extremism.  On Iran, he said that Tehran continues its terrorist activities and aggressive conduct, expressing support for the latest United States policy on Iran.  Tehran has trained and armed terrorist militias.  Such aggressive conduct constitutes a glaring breach of all international laws and treaties.  “Iran should be held accountable in the international legal system,” he stressed.

Turning to the boycott against Qatar, he said that Doha supports terrorists and hosts extremists, and spreads hateful rhetoric through its media outlets.  The Syrian crisis has entered its eighth year, he continued, stressing that that country’s people must be able to live on their own soil.  Saudi Arabia supports legitimacy in Libya, he added, urging Libya’s unity and respect for its territorial integrity.  The international regime that has existed for centuries is rooted in sovereignty and respect for international law.  “This is not up for discussion.  Sovereignty is a red line that cannot be crossed,” he stressed.  The Kingdom has placed the Saudi citizen at the heart of its development plans.

PÉTER SZIJJÁRTÓ, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, pointed to migration as the greatest challenge in history.  Migratory waves are imposing huge security risks globally, destabilizing countries, causing political debates globally and bringing terrorism to a region where it did not exist before, he said.  Migration is not beneficial for everyone, especially not for those countries hosting a large number of migrants coming from different cultures, he added.  Arguing that it leads to the creation of a parallel society, he recalled the 400,000 illegal migrants marching through Hungary in 2015, violating borders, disrespecting his people’s way of life and threatening individuals and families.  He stated that Hungary experienced illegal migration first‑hand, deploring the fact that the European Union failed while looking for an answer to this challenge.  He argued that the Union looked at how to encourage the migratory flow and not how to stop it.  While the Union wants to introduce obligatory quotas for migrants to be taken in by its Member States, he said that the bloc intends to punish unwilling countries.  The Union’s institutions kept saying that stopping migration is not possible.  However, Hungary proved them otherwise, he said, adding that his nation spent more than €1 billion to build a fence along its borders.

Policies encouraging migratory waves are harmful and must be stopped, he said.  “Migration is not a fundamental human right,” he underlined, noting that violating international and national borders is also not a right.  Officials of the United Nations tend to speak of migration as a means to improving prosperity and global innovation, he noted, recalling that this is a forced and biased position, warning that the Global Compact for Migration is the worst possible thing to do.  Referring to the United States leaving the process, he stressed that “We will also leave the process as we do not accept the Global Compact on [for] Migration and we will not take part in the mechanism,” he declared, adding that the Compact is strongly biased and unbalanced.  He noted that it is dangerous, causing further migratory waves.

The sovereignty of countries must be respected, he emphasized, noting that the international community must respect the rights of countries to permit whom they wish to enter.  All nations have the right to decide with whom they want to live, he underlined, while safeguarding their historical and cultural heritage.  Labour markets, economic and social policies, and demographic trends should be defined and controlled by countries themselves.  Border protection measures should not be based on human rights, he said, noting that it is a national security issue.  It is an obligation of each country, he said, recalling that nations have the right and responsibility to control their own borders.  He stressed that illegal border crossing is a serious criminal offense which must be made clear, emphasizing that violating such regulations must result in serious consequences.

According to the Compact, a multicultural society is more valuable than a homogeneous one, he said.  Contradicting this, he said nations must be able to decide that themselves, declaring that Hungary does not believe it.  Deploring that the Compact only states migrants’ rights, but not the rights of the peoples affected, he noted that Hungary establishes its migration policies on common sense, putting security first as it does not want a repeat of its experience from 2015.  Modernizing the education system and raising more children will help to address demographic challenges, he said.  He urged the international community not to encourage migratory flows.  Instead of people risking their life and leaving their homes, we should bring aid to them, he said, pointing to Hungary assisting Christian people in the region and helping them to stay where they have lived for ages.  Lastly, he warned that Hungary will not approve the Global Compact for Migration as it stands against national interests, declaring that his nation will always stick up for its rights.

GILLES TONELLI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Monaco, recalled that nations, great and small, have committed to the economic and social advancement of all people.  The United Nations and its Member States have consistently adapted to the new challenges spawned by international terrorism and crime.  When the Security Council is deadlocked, civilians, particularly women and children, suffer the most.  The Council must not be prevented from acting in cases of mass atrocities.  He welcomed the involvement of young people and women in conflict resolution.

Monaco is fully committed to reinforcing respect for international law and international humanitarian law, he continued.  Welcoming the various new initiatives launched by the Secretary-General, including the United Nations zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse, he noted that Monaco upholds various international treaties that promote and protect human rights.  Turning to migration, he said that more than 68 million people were displaced in 2017.  It is unacceptable that millions lack access to clean drinking water and sanitation.  The myriad crises are intertwined and related.

On climate change, he said its systematic repercussions have spared no region.  “If we fail to act, we will have to prepare to live on a shattered planet,” he warned.  The term urgency is nearly obsolete these days.  It is imperative the international community adopts rules and implements the Paris accord for the sake of our and future generations.  Monaco aims to achieve carbon neutrality among other targets, he said, adding that such goals will only be achieved with the support of its people.

There is no development without peace, he reiterated, saying that the adage has guided the work of the international community for decades.  “Progress has been uneven and slow,” he added.  Monaco has prioritized partnerships and international cooperation given the solid evidence that one alone cannot achieve sustained progress.  Cooperation is essential.  Monaco has built its relationships based on trust.  Given the proliferation of challenges, the international community must stand together and work in cooperation to find solutions.

MARISE PAYNE, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia, said that at a time of rapid change, rising nationalism and geopolitical competition, solutions to urgent global challenges begin with collaboration.  With that in mind, Australia drafted a white paper in 2017 analysing trends and setting out its policy response, including taking responsibility for its security and prosperity and investing in national resilience and strength while working with regional and global actors.

Citing many challenges requiring concerted action, she said ridding the world of nuclear weapons is a priority.  Australia supports non-proliferation progress, including the Iran nuclear agreement and developments on the Korean Peninsula.  Pointing at a new pattern of chemical weapon use, she called on Syria to cease deploying those arms and urged the Russian Federation and all nations to reinforce the ban on such substances.

She commended the Secretary-General for his gender parity initiatives and for declaring zero-tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse.  Highlighting that Australia was among the first Member States to draft a national action plan on women, peace and security, she said achievements include reaching a minimum of 15 per cent of female military members deployed on peacekeeping mission teams.  Indeed, lasting and resilient security can only be achieved by including women in all aspects of peace and security initiatives, she said.

Providing examples of regional cooperation and working together towards common goals, she said Australia is actively engaged with partners in the investigation of the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 and has signed a new maritime boundaries treaty with Timor-Leste.  The Government is also strengthening bilateral relations in the Indo-Pacific region and supporting neighbouring countries with aid programmes that drive economic growth and human development.  An active partner with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and regional forums, Australia seeks a region that promotes accountability and respects international law for the benefit of all countries, she said, expressing support for United Nations reform.  “We need to work together to keep pace with the needs and aspirations of the people we serve,” she added.

KAIRAT ABDRAKHMANOV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, said his country is creating a thriving economy and aims to be among the top 30 advanced economies in the world by 2050 through new development initiatives on the national and international levels.  On the regional level, the Government is committed to extending partnerships among Central Asian countries where the collective goal is to create a cooperative region that is a zone of peace, security, trust and development.  The stability of Afghanistan is of particular interest to Kazakhstan, he said, adding that Afghan women should play a crucial role.  To that end, Kazakhstan hosted the Regional Conference on Empowering Women in Afghanistan in September 2018.

He went on to emphasize the need for regional rather than country-specific strategies in addressing cross-border threats and challenges, offering, as a pilot case, Almaty as the site of a United Nations regional hub for the Sustainable Development Goals.  Kazakhstan is also committed to strengthening peacekeeping with clear and achievable mandates, and will soon increase its contribution to peacekeeping operations, he said.  Kazakhstan is also committed to preventative diplomacy and nuclear disarmament, as evidenced by its signing of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in March 2018 and its sponsorship of General Assembly resolution 64/35 for the International Day against Nuclear Tests.

Reaffirming his country’s support for the Iran nuclear agreement and the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, he said the fight against terrorism is also particularly significant for Kazakhstan, calling upon Member States to ratify the relevant United Nations instruments and address the root causes of radicalization.  As the world’s largest landlocked country, Kazakhstan strives to achieve connectivity, expand communications and enhance trade, he said, recalling that, in May, it hosted a ministerial meeting of landlocked developing nations to address those issues with the Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.  Kazakhstan will continue to extend assistance to African countries, he said, adding that it remains committed to pluralism and interfaith accord.

U KYAW TINT SWE, Union Minister for the Office of the State Counsellor of Myanmar, noted his country’s efforts to transform it from an authoritarian system to a democratic one and its effort to bring about sustainable development and build a society where stability, peace and harmony prevail.  The ethnic strife and armed conflicts in Myanmar can only be ended through political means.  During the past year, two more ethnic armed groups, namely the New Mon Party and the Lahu Democratic Union, joined the peace process by signing the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement.  “Human rights and inclusiveness are fundamental to the successful transformation of Myanmar into a democratic society,” he said.

Resolving the issue in Rakhine is an important component of Myanmar’s democratic process, he said.  Barely a month after the Advisory Commission on Rakhine was established, an extremist terrorist group called AqaMul Mujahidin launched attacks on three border police posts in Northern Rakhine State.  “The attacks were premeditated, well organized and designed to invoke fear among the inhabitants,” he said.  The Commission’s final report contained 88 recommendations towards achieving lasting peace and stability in Rakhine.  Within hours of its release, terrorists carried out attacks on police and the army, opening a new chapter of fear that led to a large outflow of refugees.

“We sympathize deeply with these displaced persons especially women and children and have taken steps to effect the early repatriation of all displaced persons from Rakhine, who are verified as residents of the State,” he continued.  Myanmar has made the necessary preparations in line with bilateral agreements and has been ready to receive verified returnees from Bangladesh since 23 January.  He called on Bangladesh to fulfil its commitments in accordance with bilateral agreements, to allow, without delay, the return of verified persons under voluntary, safe and dignified conditions.  Several people who have already returned have been registered, processed and are now with their families, he said.

He expressed serious concern over the report published on 27 August by the Human Rights Council’s fact‑finding mission on Myanmar.  From the very beginning, Myanmar objected to the formation of the mission due to its Government’s serious and genuine concerns over its composition and mandate.  “Accountability must apply equally to all,” he said, also recalling Myanmar’s rejection of the International Criminal Court’s ruling of 6 September in connection with the Rakhine State.  His nation is not a party to the Rome Statute, and the Court has no jurisdiction over Myanmar whatsoever.  Such action can only erode the moral and legal authority of the Court.  While the Government is unable to accept this legally dubious intervention, it fully commits to ensuring accountability where there is evidence of human rights violations committed in Rakhine State.

GUDLAUGUR THÓR THÓRDARSON, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland, saying that gender equality is a “master key” to unlocking sustainable development in all countries in line with 2030 Agenda, noted that his nation is one of the most gender equal countries in the world. 

Addressing climate change, he noted:  “In the Arctic, Iceland sits in the front row witnessing disappearing ice caps and changing ecology.”  Saying the issue is fast becoming the most serious challenge to global peace, security and development, he highlighted the new Government of Iceland climate strategy, aiming to make the country carbon neutral by 2040.  Already, all electricity and heating are produced from renewable resources, and the plan aims to phase out fossil fuels and increase afforestation and restoration of wetlands.  Stating Iceland is firmly committed to the 2030 Agenda and its “inclusive and bottom-up approach to development”, he cited a national foreign policy with healthy oceans and sustainable fisheries at its core.  The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea provides a tried and tested framework, with Iceland’s own experience showing the regional approach to conservation is most effective.  He stated that Iceland has developed and is ready to share expertise in marine resource management, having trained almost 5,000 experts from 100 countries in a programme that also embraces gender equality, green energy and land restoration.  In medicine, he highlighted the neglected issue of neurological disorders, affecting 1 billion people worldwide.  The Nordic countries are working towards a common research database on neurological disorders.

Expressing pride that Iceland in 2018 took a seat on the Human Rights Council, a first for his country, while celebrating the country’s centenary of sovereignty, he stated that upholding human rights is in the interest of every State.  Iceland’s priorities are promoting the rights of women, children, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, and the connection between climate change and human rights.  He noted that Iceland’s history underlines that a nation’s prosperity and well-being is largely dependent on protecting and promoting citizens’ rights.

Saying the Security Council should be reformed and not held hostage by narrow national interests, he pointed to difficult and unresolved global conflicts.  Stating the Syrian war has left the country in ruins with more than 400,000 dead and almost half the population displaced, he said a political solution is required.  The Yemen situation is fast becoming the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.  The issue of Western Sahara is unresolved, as is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and he described the disregard for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and Georgia “a wound in the European security architecture”.  Referring to horrors committed against the Rohingya population of Myanmar, he called for those responsible to be held to account, including before the International Criminal Court.  These conflicts become even more disconcerting when considering that almost 250 million children are affected, and along with the correlative refugee crisis, the greatest since the Second World War, call for a coordinated response.

ELMAR MAHARRAM OGLU MAMMADYAROV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, said coordinated efforts and shared responsibilities backed by adequate resources are essential to secure a sustainable and inclusive future for all.  Azerbaijan has adapted its national development strategy considering the Sustainable Development Goals, and consistently aims to improve life for its citizens with a poverty level at 5.4 per cent and unemployment at 5 per cent.  His country promotes regional development through connectivity, such as the establishment of an East-West transportation corridor, which saves time for moving goods between Asia and Europe.  Azerbaijan also initiated a transnational broadband project called the Trans-Eurasian Information Super Highway that will lay a fibre optic line between Hong Kong and Frankfurt and has nominated Baku to host the World EXPO2025.  Beyond national development, his country is also committed to humanitarian assistance.

Education and health care are top domestic policy priorities for Azerbaijan, he went on to say, also emphasizing the importance of fighting corruption and promoting human rights.  Azerbaijan is one of the world’s centres of peaceful multiculturalism and it seeks to promote those values globally through the hosting of international events.  In that regard, he spoke of the Baku Process, launched in 2008, with the goal of strengthening partnership and cooperation between the Muslim world and Europe.  He also announced that Azerbaijan will take over chairmanship of the Non-Aligned Movement in 2019.

The ongoing armed conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan still represents a major threat to international and regional peace, he said.  Citing the relevant Security Council resolutions, he said the 15-nation organ had acknowledged an obvious violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan yet no resolutions had been implemented.  On the contrary, Armenian policy and practices indicate its intention to secure the annexation of Azerbaijani territories, he said.  The Prime Minister of Armenia regards the Nagorno-Karabakh region as part of Armenia, contrary to international law and Council resolutions, he said.  He could not exclude that the latest statements and actions by the Prime Minister of Armenia are aimed at escalating the situation, he said, calling on the international community to exert pressure on Yerevan to comply with international law.

Armenia has consistently obstructed the conflict-settlement process and refuses to conduct result-oriented negotiations, he said.  An economically developed and prosperous Armenia is not possible without peace and respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its neighbours, he remarked, imploring the that country’s new leadership to act in accordance with the rule of law and democratic values.

MAHAMAT ZENE CHERIF, Minister for Foreign Affairs, African Integration and International Cooperation of Chad, said the session’s theme reminds all nations that humanity has no choice but to work together to rise to global threats and challenges in a manner based on universal values upon which the United Nations was built.  Africa and more specifically the Sahel region are currently facing some of those graves threats.  Surrounded by conflicts and crises in a region characterized by terrorism, trafficking, transnational crime and desertification, Chad has taken steps to combat those threats, which are jeopardizing development gains.  To overcome such challenges, cooperation is essential.  Indeed, a collective commitment of Lake Chad Basin States led to Boko Haram’s defeat.  Ensuring peace and security is essential for long-term development, he continued, reiterating a call by the Group of Five for the Sahel joint force requesting the Security Council to place its mandate under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter.

In its own quest towards socioeconomic development, peace and security, he said that Chad will prioritize partnerships based on results in improving conditions on the ground.  Departing from a patronizing approach, the Government will take steps centred on building resilience through sustainable development.  Despite facing challenges, Chad adopted a national development plan to reach those objectives.  Because women play a central role in development processes, the Government passed a law in May introducing a 30 per cent quota for females in the civil service and in elected positions.  Turning to concerns about the Lake Chad Basin, home to 45 million people, he said neighbouring countries are working together to save the body of water from completely disappearing.  But, they cannot do it alone, he said, appealing to the international community for support.

More broadly, migration remains one of the greatest challenges in the region, he said, noting that unabated flows of Africans fuelled by desperation continue to risk their lives to reach Europe.  A viable mechanism to manage migration must address the underlying causes, including poverty, under-development, conflict, climate change and population pressures.  All nations must commit to make an economic and social effort to better manage migration and ensure the protection of migrants’ rights.  The best way to rise to migration challenges is to establish flexible mechanisms and to consider the phenomenon as a way to bring people together rather than view them as a threat.

Highlighting challenges and progress, he first pointed at the Central African Republic, which chose the path of dialogue and reconciliation.  He also commended successful elections in Mali, the recently signed South Sudan peace accord and the Ethiopian-Eritrean agreement.  Turning to Libya, he said the international community must support efforts leading to inclusive dialogue and reconciliation.  Since the instability in Libya has crossed borders into neighbouring nations, he invited partners to support efforts in line with the N’Djamena border security cooperation agreement, signed in May.  Concerned with the situation in Syria and Yemen, he reaffirmed support for United Nations-led efforts to find a political solution to the crisis.  Preoccupied by the worsening situation between Cuba and the United States, he encouraged the parties to work towards normalizing relations.  In closing, he emphasized the need for Security Council reform, underlining an urgent need to allocate a permanent seat representing Africa.  “Like it or not,” he said, “Africa in the twenty-first century is indispensable and its voice must be heard.”

MAMADI TOURÉ, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guinea said that the United Nations is the sole multilateral platform that can adopt a concerted global approach to the world’s many challenges.  While supporting the Secretary-General’s reform process in peace, security and development, he said Guinea can never insist enough on Security Council reform, as it is time to recognize the political and economic importance of Africa by conferring the role it can play on the international scene.  He said the injustice inflicted upon the continent must be redressed by conferring two permanent and two non-permanent African seats.

As it celebrates its sixtieth anniversary of its independence, he said Guinea is “flying the flag of Pan-Africanism”, noting a history including the battle against apartheid and the promotion of peace and security and socioeconomic development on the continent.  Guinea is making major economic and social progress, with mega-projects in the energy and agricultural sectors and infrastructure promising a better future for its people.  Under the aegis of the 2030 Agenda and the African Union’s Agenda 2063, the country aims to implement the Sustainable Development Goals and counts on the support of the international community.  Expressing appreciation for a new climate favouring sustainable peace in Africa, he pointed to progress in managing crises in Guinea-Bissau, South Sudan and Somalia.  Progress in resolving disputes between Ethiopia and Eritrea, and Eritrea and Djibouti, confirm that the world must prioritize political solutions to create an environment for development.  Nonetheless, positive developments must not distract from the shared fight against terrorism.  Condemning barbaric acts committed against innocent populations of Africa and worldwide, he urged major Powers to support the G-5 Sahel framework.  He commended the Sahel: Land of Opportunities programme promoting a more prosperous future for 10 African countries.  However, the conflict in the Middle East remains a major preoccupation for the international community.  Stating Guinea has always unambiguously expressed unconditional solidarity for the just cause of the Palestinian people, he called for a two-State solution with safe, internationally recognized borders.  Protracted crises worldwide have generated humanitarian needs estimated at $22.5 billion, but that aid is hampered by drastic United Nations funding cuts.

He hailed the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration as the hope for 258 million migrants worldwide, largely women and children.  It will strike a balance between State sovereignty and human rights.  However, he noted that achieving social well-being and sustainable development is impossible without ridding the world of recurring diseases.  Although the world must strengthen the fight against transmissible and non-transmissible diseases, he applauds progress made against such diseases as tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.

However, creating inclusive societies also requires gender equality, as empowering youth and women in economic activities is vital to achieving sustainable development.  Noting that the Secretary-General is working to achieve parity in high-ranking positions in the United Nations, he declared that initiative fully in line with agreements on women’s empowerment.  Multilateralism remains the sole path towards realizing the objectives of the United Nations Charter.

MOHAMED T. H. SIALA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Libya, delivered a statement on behalf of Faiez Mustafa Serraj, President of the Presidency Council of the Government of National Accord of the State of Libya, who could not be in New York due to the current situation in his country.  Mr. Siala emphasized a need for a coordinated response in efforts to assist Libya, requesting that all actors coordinate with the United Nations.  While the current security landscape is mired with violence and terrorist attacks as Libya faced a range of political and economic challenges, he pointed at several gains, including a road map featuring an approach to national reconciliation that would permit the creation of a modern State.  Overcoming the political deadlock is essential, he continued, commending efforts to find solutions to various challenges.  Despite the lack of progress on implementing the road map, the Government of National Accord supports any initiative that promotes a political solution and has engaged in dialogue with parties to end the impasse.  Noting increased numbers of registered voters and the allocation of Government funds for elections, he expressed a desire to overcome the crisis.

Raising several concerns, he condemned attacks in Tripoli, calling on concerned parties to respect the current ceasefire, adding that perpetrators will be brought to justice.  Security and stability are priorities that must be backed by the international community, he said, requesting that the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) be transformed into one that would help with a response.  Efforts are being made to stamp out Da’esh, whose activities are exploiting Libya’s natural resources, he said, adding that subregional, regional and international cooperation must bolster concerted efforts to combat terrorism.

For its part, Libya has passed a series of laws to ensure national unity and address the country’s many challenges, he continued.  But, Libya needs assistance to overcome them.  Emphasizing the need to ensure women’s empowerment, he reiterated the Government’s commitment to uphold human rights.  As a transit country on the migration route, Libya is also trying to resolve related issues, but needs the international community’s help, he said, commending the forthcoming intergovernmental conference to adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.

Addressing other issues, he said Libya stands firm against the use of chemical weapons and for the elimination of nuclear weapons.  On development, he said that if nothing changes in terms of current embargo’s asset freeze, Libyans will not be able to invest those funds in projects aimed at achieving the 2030 Agenda goals.  Reiterating his Government’s call on the Security Council to amend the sanctions, he pointed out that while the embargo aimed at preserving, the opposite is happening and the assets are eroding.  On Security Council reform, he said equitable representation must be ensured.  To correct the marginalization of Africa, he called for two permanent seats to be allocated to African States and one for Arab States.  He also called for international efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Syrian crisis.

Right of Reply

The representative of Qatar, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that the delegate of the United Kingdom had made accusations against his country.  The embargo against Qatar did not achieve its goals, and the reason for the restriction has never been expressed.  He said Qatar has made efforts in the fight against terrorism.  If the accusations are repeated by the same parties, it will undermine their own credibility.  Stating that terrorism is always rooted in religious radicalization, he said Saudi Arabia is using the principle of terrorism against those who disagree with them, which is very immature.  Qatar has demonstrated calm and restraint in this crisis.  The embargo had consequences and is a violation of the rights of Qatari citizens and expatriates.  Citizens and expatriates were unable to participate in the annual pilgrimage, a grave, unprecedented human rights violation.  Still, the Qatar Government has not taken measures against Saudi Arabia.

The representative of Indonesia, responding to comments made by his counterpart from Vanuatu that mentioned “Papua and West Papua”, said such declarations violated the principles of the United Nations Charter.  For many years, Vanuatu has been trying to “sell” the idea that there were human rights violations in those provinces.  Vanuatu’s accusation that Indonesia committed human rights violations is unacceptable, he said, adding that “it’s like the pot calling the kettle black”.  The United Nations membership decided, almost 50 years ago, the final status of Papua as part of Indonesia, he said, adding that Vanuatu’s comments are an outrageous challenge to that United Nations decision.

The representative of Saudi Arabia rejected statements made by her counterpart from Qatar, a country that harbours terrorist organizations.  Such organizations are attempting to destabilize the region, she said.  Responding to false accusations targeting Saudi Arabia for preventing Qatari pilgrims from coming to her country, she said the paperwork has been completed and the Qatari pilgrims have arrived in Saudi Arabia.

The representative of Qatar, rejecting the mendacious accusations made by his counterpart from Saudi Arabia, said that his country will continue to combat terrorism in the region.

For information media. Not an official record.