Warning against ‘Great Fracture’, Secretary-General Opens Annual General Assembly Debate with Call to Avoid Zero-Sum Politics, Revive United Nations Values

GA/12183
24 September 2019
Seventy-fourth Session, 3rd & 4th Meetings (AM & PM)

Warning against ‘Great Fracture’, Secretary-General Opens Annual General Assembly Debate with Call to Avoid Zero-Sum Politics, Revive United Nations Values

‘Future Does Not Belong to Globalists’, Says United States President, as World Leaders Differ over Meaning of Common Humanity

Amid fears of the largest economies creating two competing worlds — each with its own currency, trade rules, financial norms and zero-sum geopolitics — the United Nations Secretary-General called today upon global leaders gathered for the General Assembly’s annual general debate to maintain a multipolar world in which universal respect for international law and multilateral institutions remains undeniable.

“We must do everything possible to avert the great fracture,” Secretary-General António Guterres said as he described populations across the globe living in a world of disquiet.  “A great many people fear getting trampled, thwarted, left out and left behind,” as machines take jobs, traffickers take dignity, demagogues take rights, warlords take lives and fossil fuels take the future.  “People have a right to live in peace.”

Laying out the global landscape, he described the climate emergency as a race the world is losing, but one it can win “if we change our ways now” by reducing emissions, limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C.  New forms of authoritarianism are flourishing, while alienation and distrust are being weaponized.  Rights defenders and journalists are being targeted, breaches that are playing out at a deeper level, shredding the fabric of “our common humanity”.

“We see borders and hearts closing” to refugees and displaced people, he said, families torn apart and the right to seek asylum flouted.  He described diversity as a richness, not a threat, and gender equality as a question of power, which still overwhelmingly lies with men — from parliaments to boardrooms.  While the problems are real, “we are here to serve”, and he called for reconnecting with the vision of the United Nations founders, restoring trust and moving ahead together.

Tijjani Muhammad-Bande (Nigeria), President of the seventy-fifth General Assembly, also underscored the need to prioritize cooperation, mutual respect and efforts to avoid relapse into bitter rivalries.  “Evidence abounds that we can do great things if we are courageous, steadfast and show empathy,” he said, describing today’s gathering to achieve a collective dream as “a remarkable feat” in itself.  “We have no room for either cynicism or apathy,” he emphasized.

Throughout the day, leaders from 37 countries outlined their visions, challenges and achievements, with many contrasting such appeals for openness and inclusion with warnings against “erasing and replacing” national foundations and indisputable rights to sovereignty.  “The future does not belong to globalists,” said United States President Donald J. Trump, but rather to patriots.  Wise leaders always place the good of their people and country first.

“Our time is one of great contests, high stakes and clear choices,” he said, with historic divides again playing out between those who believe they are destined to rule over others, and those nations wanting only to rule themselves.  The United States prizes self-government above all, he said, describing a national renewal programme intended to empower people through new trade relationships — most importantly with China — new controls on migration and refusal to ratify an international arms trade treaty sponsored by the United Nations.  “Globalism exerted a religious pull over past leaders, causing them to ignore their own national interests,” he said.

Striking a similar tone, President Jair Messias Bolsonaro of Brazil said the United States Administration epitomizes the spirit that must prevail among Member States:  respect for freedom and sovereignty.  To make that point, he said the Amazon has been mistakenly called a “world heritage” and its forests “the lungs of the world”.  In so doing, countries have disrespected Brazil in a colonialist spirit, questioning its most sacred principle, “our sovereignty”.  He disputed that the Amazon is being consumed by fire, as the media claims.  “We are not here to erase nationalities and overrule sovereignty in the name of an abstract global interest,” he stressed.

Differing views on what distinguishes national, regional and global interests played out over various issues, with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al Sisi outlining his country’s ownership of solutions to national problems, and African solutions to African ones.  He said Egypt still hopes for an agreement with Ethiopia and Sudan that will respect the common interests of all Blue Nile Basin peoples, recalling the understanding it demonstrated to Ethiopia over the latter’s proposed construction of the Renaissance Dam, without having undertaken the requisite studies to ensure the water interests of downstream countries.

What really matters is what countries can achieve together, said Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who recalled that he has warned for years that the fate of humanity cannot be left to the decisions of a few.  “The world is bigger than five,” he said, pointing out that inequities between nuclear and non-nuclear weapons States undermine global balances.

“By standing alone and isolated, one fails,” said Croatia’s President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, who was among numerous delegates advocating collective action to reverse the harmful repercussions of climate change.  She recalled how environment enthusiasts organized residents on Zlarin island to declare it the first Adriatic island free from single-use plastic within a year.  “Their action was local, but their efforts were global,” she said.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, said the idea of countries existing in isolation from each other has become obsolete, as the world has become interdependent, with domestic decisions having global ramifications.  Her country experienced this worldwide connectedness first-hand on 15 March 2019, when an alleged terrorist “undertook the most horrific attack on a place of worship, taking the lives of 51 innocent people, devastating our Muslim community and challenging our sense of who we are as a country.”  New Zealanders united in solidarity, and within 10 days of the attacks, the country banned semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles.  The alleged terrorist’s broadcast of his crimes online, uploaded to YouTube as fast as once every second, demonstrated the need for global problem-solving.  Two months after the attack, leaders gathered in Paris for the Christchurch Call, bringing together companies, countries and civil society, and committing to a range of actions to reduce the harm such content can cause.

President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa of Portugal, reflecting on the world’s failure to embrace multilateralism in the form of the League of Nations and the subsequent war that followed, stated that it is worth fighting for international law, international organizations and a multilateral vision shared by everyone.  Citing the many global and regional problems facing the international community — such as the rising tensions between leading players on the international scene, the rush to economic and cyber warfare and a disinvestment in international law and international organizations — he said that only those that do not know history — “and therefore do not mind repeating the mistakes of the past” — minimize the role of the United Nations.  He urged the international community not to repeat the mistakes of the League of Nations, stressing:  “We need more, and not less, United Nations.”

The Republic of Korea’s President, Moon Jae-In, said his country has benefited immensely from the United Nations, which together with the international community helped it overcome the scourge of war.  Over the past year and a half, dialogue and negotiations have produced significant results on the Korean Peninsula.  Once a symbol of division, Panmunjom has become a demilitarized area “in which not even a single pistol exists”, he said, proposing that it become an international peace zone recognized as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site.

However, much work remains to be done, said Angola’s President João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço.  Outlining several areas requiring urgent, collaborative action, he said Africa was being ravaged by terrorism, and the international community and the African Union should focus particular attention on the need to normalize the situation in Libya, as territories controlled by different militias are the source of arms and ammunition of fundamentalist groups on the continent.

Similarly, Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou suggested the appointment of a joint United Nations-African Union Special Envoy for Libya, emphasizing that the international community bears serious responsibility in dealing with this crisis alongside the one in the Sahel, where terrorist groups are spreading.  Acknowledging the direct link between poverty, terrorism and climate change, he appealed to all Member States to implement agreements made at the Climate Action Summit on 23 September.  Calling for a new global governance model to replace the one adopted following the Second World War, which is now no longer enough to help the world overcome its current challenges, he said all States must engage in win-win cooperation — not in a zero-sum approach — because national interests benefit from cooperation among nations.

France’s President, Emmanuel Macron, said the world faces “unprecedented” challenges on many fronts, particularly climate change and biodiversity.  Addressing the “constant paradox” on climate, he said it is leading to people becoming collectively jaded.  “We give young people the possibility of speaking their minds, but then we act as we have in the past; that cannot continue,” he said, highlighting a need for concrete steps to change the collective approach and to work towards a carbon-neutral economy by 2050.  Consistency in words and actions are also needed, he said, adding that “We have no other choice in any case.”

Also speaking today were Heads of State and Government of Nigeria, Maldives, Qatar, Switzerland, Bolivia, Jordan, Burkina Faso, Chile, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Rwanda, Finland, Monaco, Netherlands, Argentina, Latvia, Slovakia, Kazakhstan, Poland, Liechtenstein, Peru, Senegal, Italy, Spain, Japan, United Kingdom and Morocco.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, 25 September, to continue its general debate.

Opening Remarks

ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary‑General of the United Nations, noted that the Organization’s Charter sends a clear message to “put people first”, while recalling that during the first half of his mandate, he met and listened to people around the world who fear getting trampled, thwarted, left out and left behind.  “We are living in a world of disquiet,” he said.  People still believe in the spirit and ideas that underpin the United Nations, but the leaders of its Member States must deliver for them, he emphasized.  There have been several positive developments over the past 12 months, including agreement just yesterday on a credible constitutional committee for Syria, yet across the global landscape, conflicts persist, terrorism is spreading and the risk of a new arms race is growing, he said, citing, among other things, unilateral actions that threaten a two‑State solution in the Middle East, as well as the alarming prospect of armed conflict in the Gulf, “the consequences of which the world cannot afford”.

Expressing hope that for the possibility of preserving the progress on non‑proliferation represented by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, he emphasized the importance of preventing crises as well as the need for mediation and a surge of diplomacy for peace, while paying tribute to the 80 peacekeepers, humanitarian workers and others who have died in 2019 while trying to better the lives of others.  He went on to recall that he has advanced a new disarmament agenda, emphasizing that the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, known as the New START Treaty, must be extended in the near term.  Efforts must also be made to address the heightened threat posed by ballistic missiles and to ensure a successful review of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in 2020.  He noted that the situation on the Korean Peninsula remains uncertain and expressed his full support for efforts towards a new summit between the leaders of the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

He expressed fear, however, of a possible “great fracture”, with the world’s two largest global economies creating two separate and competing worlds, each with its own dominant currency, trade and financial rules, their own Internet and artificial intelligence capacities and its own zero‑sum geopolitical and military strategies.  Everything possible must be done to stop the world from splitting in two and to maintain a universal system governed by respect for international law and strong multilateral institutions, he stressed.  Describing human rights as universal and indivisible, he noted that they permeate the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and are among the best tools for preventing conflict, yet the world is not on track to fulfil the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Inequality is exploding and, sadly, one’s chances of living a life free of want depends more on one’s circumstances of birth than on their innate circumstances, he continued.  Today’s Sustainable Development Goals Summit and tomorrow’s Dialogue on Development Financing provide opportunities to intensify ambition and maximize the promise of technology and innovation, he said.  He went on to describe the climate emergency as a race that the world is losing, but which it can win “if we change our ways now”.  What used to be called climate change is now a climate crisis and global warming is more accurately global heating, he emphasized.  The international community must build on the momentum from the Climate Action Summit, which highlighted some solutions intended to reduce emissions, limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C and ensure carbon neutrality by 2050.

Emphasizing that people have a right to fundamental freedoms, he pointed out that decades of progress are being restricted, reversed, misinterpreted and mistrusted, amid impunity for violations of international humanitarian law, flourishing new forms of authoritarianism and narrowing civic space.  Surveillance systems are expanding their reach, shredding the fabric of common humanity, he noted.  With numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons at record levels, solidarity is on the run, he cautioned, underlining that the integrity of the international refuge‑protection regime must be restored, the promise of the global compact on refugees fulfilled and the adoption of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration reinforced.  The human rights of all migrants must be respected, he stressed.

Reiterating that fear is gaining ground throughout the world, he called attention to United Nations initiatives to tackle hate speech and support efforts to uphold the right to religious freedom.  Diversity is a richness, not a threat, and it is unacceptable in the twenty‑first century that women and men are persecuted due to their identity, beliefs or sexual orientation, he said.  Gender equality is a question of power, which still lies overwhelmingly with men, and given current trends, he noted, it will take two centuries to close the economic empowerment gap.  Turning to his efforts to reform and make the United Nations more effective, he said the Organization’s seventy‑fifth anniversary will provide an opportunity to renew the international community’s common project.  The world’s problems are real, but so too is hope, he emphasized, urging Member States to restore trust, rebuild hope and move ahead together.

TIJJANI MUHAMMAD-BANDE (Nigeria), President of the seventy‑fourth session of the General Assembly, said it is deplorable that “we have remained far too long at the crossroads of human development”, emphasizing the need to join efforts to finding solutions to the untold hardships arising from violent conflict, terrorism, natural disasters, drugs and sex trafficking and illiteracy, among others, from which millions of people around the world suffer.  Rising from the ashes of the Second World War in 1945, the United Nations was created to ensure that humankind will never again traverse such a destructive path, he recalled, pointing out that, despite occasional failings, the Organization helped humanity achieve much good, including the adoption of the 2030 Agenda.  Implementing the Agenda’s 17 SDGs by 2030 must be a priority in the interest of the billions of people hoping that the work undertaken in the Assembly will galvanize efforts to eradicate poverty while ensuring zero hunger, quality education, climate action and inclusion, he said, adding that challenges will not be resolved by individual countries.  Overcoming them requires focused cooperation, he stressed.

Outlining his presidency’s priorities for the seventy‑fourth session, he emphasized the need to ensure that the United Nations peace and security architecture is fit for the twenty‑first century while making prevention a priority.  Eradicating poverty remains a great challenge globally, he said, urging countries to improve social‑protection systems and channel a significant proportion of Government spending into the marginalized or excluded groups most affected by poverty.  Further, he called for the formation or strengthening of coalitions undertaking climate resilience and mitigation actions, pointing out that climate change exacerbates poverty and food shortages.  It is also vital to ensure access to free quality primary and secondary education, as well as affordable and inclusive vocational and technical education.  Underlining that no nation can develop beyond its educational capacity, particularly the capacity of its teachers, he said that ensuring inclusion, particularly as it relates to the rights and empowerment of youths, women and the disabled is the right thing to do, he pointed out, describing it as “a guarantor of the expansion of the economy”.

He went on to stress the need to prioritize cooperation, mutual interest and respect, and to avoid relapsing into the bitter rivalries of the past, also underscoring the importance of pooling resources and energies to address major global challenges confronting humanity.  “Evidence abounds that we can do great things if we are courageous, steadfast and show empathy,” he said, citing historical and contemporary figures who reminded humanity that hope is not lost, including Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Jr., Greta Thunberg, Malala Yousafzai and Imam Abubakar Abdullahi.  “We should not forget that the fact that we stand in this magnificent Hall today, in the presence of leaders from around the globe, to debate how best to achieve the world of our collective dream, is a remarkable feat in itself,” he said, calling for focused attention to the suffering of billions of people around the world while stressing that crafting stronger cooperation is essential to creating a more peaceful and prosperous world.  “We have no room for either cynicism or apathy,” he stressed.  “We should strive, together, to deliver for all.”

JAIR MESSIAS BOLSONARO, President of Brazil, presented “a new Brazil, one that re-emerges from a brink of socialism”, an ideology which has put his country in a state of widespread corruption, serious economic recession, high criminality rates and unending attacks on the family and religious values.  Recalling the agreement between the Workers’ Party Government and the Cuban dictatorship which brought 10,000 physicians to Brazil, he said they lacked professional certification and basic freedoms.  He pointed out that before he took office, almost 90 per cent of these physicians left Brazil due to unilateral action by the Cuban regime and those who remained underwent medical qualification.  That is how Brazil stopped supporting the Cuban dictatorship, he added.

He went on to point out Cuba’s long‑standing practice of establishing dictatorships, recalling that a few decades ago, Cuba unsuccessfully attempted effect regime change in Brazil and other Latin American countries.  He added that 60,000 Cuban agents control society in Venezuela, where they were invited by Hugo Chávez.  Condemning the rise of socialism in that country, he stressed the impact of the Venezuelan dictatorship on Brazil, explaining how his country became — through Operation Welcome — the host of 4 million people fleeing hunger and violence in Venezuela.  The forum of São Paulo, a criminal organization established in 1990 by Fidel Castro, former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Hugo Chávez, remains alive and must be fought, he added.

Noting that political and economic freedom go hand in hand, he said the free market and privatization are all present today in Brazil, a country recovering from the vices resulting from almost two decades of fiscal recklessness and widespread corruption.  Brazil is opening the economy, he said, adding that in only eight months, the country concluded the two biggest trade agreements in its history — those between the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) and the European Union, and between MERCOSUR and the European Free Trade Area.  He also mentioned Brazil’s readiness to start the process to accede to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).  He went on to reiterate his Government’s commitment to environmental preservation and sustainable development, pointing out that Brazil is one of the richest countries in terms of biodiversity.  Its Amazon rainforest is larger than Western Europe and remains virtually untouched.  This demonstrates that Brazil is one of the countries that protects its environment the most, he said.  It is dry weather and winds that favour both spontaneous and criminal fires, he said, adding that indigenous and local populations use fire in their cultural and survival practices.

Referring to the “sensationalist attacks” Brazil has endured from the media due to the rainforest fires, he expressed concern over the tendency to characterize the Amazon as the lung of the world.  Such misconceptions lead to disrespectful and colonialist behaviour on the part of some countries that question Brazil’ s sovereignty and suggest imposing sanctions, he said.  He expressed gratitude to President Donald Trump of the United States, saying he respects the freedom and sovereignty of nations.  Today, 14 per cent of Brazilian territory is demarcated as indigenous land and the Government refuses to increase it to 20 per cent, he emphasized.  The views of indigenous leaders are not representative of the country’s entire indigenous population, and some of these leaders are used by foreign Governments to advance their own interests in the Amazon.  “Indigenous people do not want to be poor landowners on rich lands,” he stressed, pointing out that those who attack Brazil are not concerned with indigenous rights, but with mineral wealth and biodiversity.

He pointed out that France and Germany use more than 50 per cent of their respective territories for agriculture while Brazil uses only 8 per cent, preserving 61 per cent of its territory.  Any initiative to help the preservation of the Amazon rainforest must fully respect Brazilian sovereignty, he reiterated.  Underlining the importance of building a world free of impunity, with no safe havens for criminals, he said there is no chance for terrorists to operate under the guise of political persecution victims to find asylum in Brazil.  Stressing his Government’s positive effect on safety in the country, he cited measures implemented in fighting countless violent crimes and killings, saying they successfully cut murder rates.  He also underlined Brazil’s concern about the growing persecution and violence against missionaries and religious minorities.  He reaffirmed Brazil’s willingness to uphold its contributions to United Nations peacekeeping as well as its openness to the world and eagerness to establish partnerships.

DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States, said that the essential divide seen throughout history is once again thrown into stark relief between those whose thirst for control deludes them into thinking they are destined to rule over others, and those nations that only wish to rule themselves.  The United States prizes liberty, freedom and self‑government above all, he said, adding that after spending $2.5 trillion since his election to rebuild the military, it is the world’s most powerful nation.  “Hopefully, it will never have to use this power.”  Where others seek conquest, the United States must be strong in wealth, might and spirit, defending the traditions and customs that have made it what it is today, he said, adding that each nation has a cherished history, culture and heritage that is worth defending and celebrating.  “The free world must embrace its national foundations,” he said.  “It must not attempt to erase or replace them.”  Looking around the planet, the truth is plain to see, he added.  “If you want freedom, take pride in your country.  If you want democracy, hold onto your sovereignty.  And if you want peace, then love your nation.”  Wise leaders always place the good of their people and country first, he said, emphasizing that the future belongs not to globalists but to patriots, to sovereign independent nations that protect their citizens, respect their neighbours and honour the differences that make each nation special and unique.

In that context, the United States has embarked on a new programme of national renewal, focused on empowering the dreams of its citizens, he continued.  Thanks to pro‑growth economic policies, domestic unemployment has fallen to its lowest level in half a century, fuelled by tax and regulation cuts.  Six million people have been added to employment rolls in less than three years, while African‑American, Hispanic and Asian unemployment reached the lowest rates ever recorded.  He went on to describe the United States as the largest producer of natural gas and oil in the world, adding that the country is revitalizing the unrivalled might of its military and its alliances to demonstrate to partners that they are required to pay their fair share of their defence burdens.  At the heart of the country’s renewal campaign is an effort to reform international trade, he continued, emphasizing that the United States has been exploited for decades by nations acting in bad faith.  “We want balanced trade that is both fair and reciprocal,” he said, noting that his country is working with Mexico and Canada to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as well as with Japan to finalize a new trade accord.  The United States stands ready to complete a new agreement with the United Kingdom that will bring “tremendous” benefits to both countries, he added.

He went on to state that the most important difference in his country’s new approach to trade is its new relationship with China, recalling that country’s admission to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001.  United States leaders then argued that this decision would compel China to liberalize its economy and would be good for both private property and the rule of law, he recalled.  “This theory has been tested and proven wrong,” he emphasized, saying China has declined to adopt reforms, embracing instead an economic model dependent on market barriers, subsidies, currency manipulation, product dumping, forced technology transfer and trade secrets on a grand scale.  Describing the experience of Micron Technology, he said the company was banned from selling its goods in China after a firm partially owned by that country’s Government stole its intellectual property and obtained a patent for a nearly identical product.  “We are seeking justice,” he said.  Stressing that the world’s second‑largest economy should not be allowed to declare itself a developing country in order to “game the system”, he noted that such abuse was ignored for years, declaring:  “Those days are over.”  Washington, D.C. placed tariffs on $500 billion worth of Chinese‑made goods and, as a result, supply chains are relocating back to the United States and other countries, he said.  As for the situation in Hong Kong, he said the United States expects China to respect its binding treaty with the United Kingdom — and registered with the United Nations — which requires it to respect that territory’s legal system.

He went on to stress that the United States does not seek conflict with any nation, but rather, desires peace, cooperation and mutual gain for all.  Pointing to the threat posed by the repressive regime in Iran, he said its record of death and destruction is well‑known.  He went on to describe Iran as the number one State sponsor of terrorism, fuelling wars in Syria and Yemen while its leaders squander its wealth in a fanatical quest to build nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them.  “We must never allow this to happen,” he emphasized, explaining why the United States withdrew from the “terrible” Iran nuclear deal, which does not provide for the inspection of important sites or cover ballistic missiles.  In response to Iran’s attack against Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities, the United States imposed the highest level of sanctions on Tehran’s central bank and sovereign wealth fund, he said.  Iran’s leaders have turned a proud nation into another cautionary tale of what happens when a ruling class abandons its people and embarks on a crusade for personal power and riches, he said.  For 40 years, the world has listened to Iran’s rulers decry problems that they alone have created, he added, accusing Tehran of trafficking in “monstrous” anti‑Semitism, while underlining that the United States will not tolerate anti‑Semitic hate.

Thankfully, he continued, there is growing recognition in the Middle East that countries in the region share a common interest in fighting terrorism and unleashing economic opportunity, making fully normalized relations between Israel and its neighbours all the more important.  Indeed, the United States has never believed in permanent enemies, he said, clarifying:  “We want partners, not adversaries.”  Whereas anyone can make war, only the most courageous can make peace, which is why the United States has pursued peace on the Korean Peninsula, he said, pressing the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” to denuclearize.  The United States is also pursuing the hope of a brighter future in Afghanistan, with the goal of extricating itself from endless wars, but since the Taliban continue their attacks, the United States will engage its partners to stamp out terrorism, he said.  Noting that illegal immigration continues to undermine prosperity, empower criminal cartels and rip societies apart, he emphasized that each country has the right to protect its borders.  He called for concerted action to end human smuggling and to put criminal networks out of business for good.  The United States is working with Mexico, Canada, Honduras, El Salvador, Panama and others to uphold border integrity, and has taken unprecedented action to stop illegal immigration, he said, stressing:  “If you make it here you will not be allowed in.  You will be promptly returned home.”  The United States will also support those living under repression in Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, he said.

The United States is taking steps to protect its data and security, he said, urging all countries to do the same in the knowledge that freedom and democracy must be protected from abroad and from within.  He encouraged scepticism of those eager for conformity and control, pointing out that a handful of social media platforms are acquiring immense power over what people see and say, and decrying a political class that openly defies the will of the people.  Social media giants must be prevented from silencing people’s voices, he stressed.  More broadly, the United States is working with other countries to stop the criminalization of homosexuality, and stands in solidary with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities worldwide, he said.  It is also championing the role of women in society, promoting freedom of worship and religion for all from a standpoint of defending innocent life.  The United Nations has asserted a right to “taxpayer abortion”, he added, emphasizing that “global bureaucrats have no business attacking nations that want to protect innocent life”.  He went on to emphasize that the United States will not ratify the Arms Trade Treaty, but rather uphold the right to keep and bear arms under the rights enshrined in the Second Amendment of its constitution.

ABDEL FATTAH AL SISI, President of Egypt, stressed his country’s pioneering experience in terms of respect for the principle of national ownership of solutions to national problems.  Egypt’s plan to advance society entails fighting terrorism and launching the most ambitious economic reform programme in its modern history.  As the current Chair of the African Union, he cited regional efforts to consolidate the principle of “African solutions to African problems” and to lay the foundations for development through a continent‑wide vision based on common history.  To this end, the “African Union Centre for Reconstruction and Development” — a new mechanism focused on post‑conflict reconstruction — has been launched in Cairo, he said.

He went on to state that success in implementing national ownership is also reflected in the peace agreement signed in the Central African Republic as well as the formulation of a common vision among various parties to manage the transition phase in South Sudan.  African countries are also fully aware of the importance of establishing partnerships in order to address political and economic challenges while moving towards achieving the African Union’s Agenda 2063, he said, emphasizing, in this regard, Africa’s potential to become a new engine of growth for the entire global economy, supported by — among others — Egypt’s initiative to convene the first edition of the “Aswan Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development”.

Turning to the Palestinian question, he described it as the longest‑standing crisis in the Middle East, expressing disappointment over the absence of a just solution based on international resolutions calling for the establishment of an independent Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital.  Arabs are open to the realization of a just and comprehensive peace and the Arab Peace Initiative is still on the table, he said.  In this regard, he underscored the need to restore Palestinian rights and to establish a security and economic system in the Middle East based on peace, security and cooperation.  Expressing concern over the protracted crisis in Libya, he urged all parties concerned to stop the conflict and address its root causes by fully implementing the United Nations plan adopted by the Security Council in October 2017, and by addressing the imbalance in the distribution of wealth and power.  He further underlined the need to unify all national institutions, avoid the ensuing chaos by militias, and prevent the intervention of external actors in Libya’s internal affairs.

Calling for a political solution to the crisis in Syria, he emphasized that the international community can no longer afford to continue the vicious cycle that Syria has endured for more than eight years.  As for the crisis in Yemen, he said it also calls for a decisive stance and a political solution to end foreign interventions by non‑Arab regional parties and to address threats facing the Gulf region, including the recent attacks on oil installation in Saudi Arabia.  He went on to stress the importance of combating terrorism and the need to confront all terrorist organizations without exception.  He reiterated Egypt’s readiness to intensify cooperation with other countries in countering the terrorist ideologies, stressing in this context, the importance of implementing Security Council resolution 2354 (2017) on implementation of the comprehensive international framework to counter terrorist narratives, adopted on the basis of an Egyptian initiative.  In relation to the Security Council, he expressed concern over the imbalance in its composition and over shortcomings in its decision‑making process, stressing that the historical injustice to which the African continent has been subjected must be rectified.

Recalling his country’s long‑term relations with other Nile Basin countries, he expressed Egypt’s understanding of Ethiopia’s construction of the Renaissance Dam.  Explaining that Egypt took the initiative to bring forth the Agreement on the Declaration of Principles signed in Khartoum on 23 March 2015, he said it launched negotiations to reach an agreement governing the filling and operation of the Renaissance Dam.  Unfortunately, the negotiations have not brought the desired results, he noted, adding, however, that despite recent developments, Egypt remains hopeful with regard to an agreement that will fulfil the common interests of the all the peoples of the Blue Nile in Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt.  While recognizing Ethiopia’s right to development, the Nile’s waters represent a matter of life for Egypt, he stressed, calling for a mutually satisfactory agreement.

RECEP TAYYIP ERDOĞAN, President of Turkey, said that the challenges the world faces are the result of injustice on a global scale generating instability, power struggles and crises.  Recalling that the creation of the United Nations was intended to eradicate such injustice, he pointed out the international community’s failure to solve such problems as terrorism, hunger, misery and climate change.  Affirming that solutions must be found collectively, he emphasized that it is unacceptable that one part of the world lives in luxury and enjoys the benefits of prosperity while those in other parts suffer poverty, misery and illiteracy.  He went on to point out that the inequality between nuclear-weapon-States and those without nuclear weapons undermines global balance, declaring:  “The world is bigger than five.”  Weapons of mass destruction are used as leverage and are not under discussion with a view to their total elimination.  “The possession of nuclear power should either be forbidden for all or permissible for all.”

Calling for strengthening of the capacity and efficiency of the United Nations, he praised Turkey’s role in the international arena as “the most generous country” in terms of humanitarian assistance, noting that his country hosts more than five million asylum-seekers, 3.6 of them Syrian refugees, at a cost of $40 billion over the last eight years.  Urging an end to the crisis in Syria, he praised the efforts made at the Ankara Summit with the Russian Federation and Iran.  He went on to call for the “elimination of PKK-YPG terrorist structure” and announced Tukey’s intention to establish a Peace Corridor to enable the settlement of up to three million Syrians coming from Turkey, Europe and other parts of the world.  Turkey’s other initiatives will include dialogue with Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan, with a view to allowing the return of more Syrian refugees, he said.

As for the situation in Cyprus, he said it has not been resolved “due to the uncompromising position of the Greek Cypriot side”.  Calling for a solution that guarantees the security and rights of the Turkish Cypriot people, he said “the Greek Cypriot side pursues an inequitable and unjust policy of imposition which refuses to share the political power and prosperity with Turkish Cypriots”.  He went on to mention the situation in Libya, the interventions in Yemen, the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the death of former president Mohammed Morsi of Egypt.  As for Iran, he expressed hope that discussions about its activities will be resolved in a rational framework.  He also called for the immediate establishment of an independent Palestinian State within the 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital.

He went on to note that Israel disregards all human values through acts of aggression, such as the inhuman blockade of Gaza, the illegal construction of settlements and attacks against the historical and legal status of Jerusalem.  In the South Caucasus, the occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijani territory, is unacceptable, he said, emphasizing that the dispute over Kashmir is a problem that the international community ignores.  The fate of Myanmar’s Rohingya community is another matter of concern for Turkey, he said, recalling the “genocidal intent” behind the actions of that country’s military against the Rohingya minority in Rakhine State.  He went on to point out that Afghanistan has not lived in peace for almost 40 years.

Warning against racism, xenophobia and anti-Islamic hatred, he recalled the terrorist attacks against Muslims in New Zealand, the attacks against Christians in Sri Lanka and against Jews in the United States.  He also warned against populist politicians and hate speech, urging statesmen and stateswomen to adopt inclusive and tolerant public discourse.  Urging the designation of 15 March, the day of the attack against Muslims in New Zealand, as the “International Day of Solidarity against Islamophobia”, he expressed hope for a reformed United Nations, particularly of the Security Council, based on justice, moral values and good conscience.

TIJJANI MUHAMMAD-BANDE (Nigeria), speaking in his national capacity, said it is deplorable that “we have remained far too long at the crossroads of human development”, emphasizing the need to join efforts to finding solutions to the untold hardships arising from violent conflict, terrorism, natural disasters, drugs and sex trafficking and illiteracy, among others, from which millions of people around the world suffer.  Rising from the ashes of the Second World War in 1945, the United Nations was created to ensure that humankind will never again traverse such a destructive path, he recalled, pointing out that, despite occasional failings, the Organization helped humanity achieve much good, including the adoption of the 2030 Agenda.  Implementing the Agenda’s 17 SDGs by 2030 must be a priority in the interest of the billions of people hoping that the work undertaken in the Assembly will galvanize efforts to eradicate poverty while ensuring zero hunger, quality education, climate action and inclusion, he said, adding that challenges will not be resolved by individual countries.  Overcoming them requires focused cooperation, he stressed.

Outlining his presidency’s priorities for the seventy‑fourth session, he emphasized the need to ensure that the United Nations peace and security architecture is fit for the twenty‑first century while making prevention a priority.  Eradicating poverty remains a great challenge globally, he said, urging countries to improve social‑protection systems and channel a significant proportion of Government spending into the marginalized or excluded groups most affected by poverty.  Further, he called for the formation or strengthening of coalitions undertaking climate resilience and mitigation actions, pointing out that climate change exacerbates poverty and food shortages.  It is also vital to ensure access to free quality primary and secondary education, as well as affordable and inclusive vocational and technical education.  Underlining that no nation can develop beyond its educational capacity, particularly the capacity of its teachers, he said that ensuring inclusion, particularly as it relates to the rights and empowerment of youths, women and the disabled is the right thing to do. It is “a guarantor of the expansion of the economy”.

He went on to stress the need to prioritize cooperation, mutual interest and respect, and to avoid relapsing into the bitter rivalries of the past, also underscoring the importance of pooling resources and energies to address major global challenges confronting humanity.  “Evidence abounds that we can do great things if we are courageous, steadfast and show empathy,” he said, citing historical and contemporary figures who reminded humanity that hope is not lost, including Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Jr., Greta Thunberg, Malala Yousafzai and Imam Abubakar Abdullahi.  “We should not forget that the fact that we stand in this magnificent Hall today, in the presence of leaders from around the globe, to debate how best to achieve the world of our collective dream, is a remarkable feat in itself,” he said, calling for focused attention to the suffering of billions of people around the world while stressing that crafting stronger cooperation is essential to creating a more peaceful and prosperous world.  “We have no room for either cynicism or apathy,” he stressed.  “We should strive, together, to deliver for all.”

IBRAHIM MOHAMED SOLIH, President of Maldives, said that the United Nations is more necessary than ever due to the signs of strain affecting the Organization, such as trade wars, populism, extremism, racism, xenophobia and terrorism.  The climate crisis is looming larger than ever, “heightened by our collective inability to address it”, he noted.  Recalling the creation of the United Nations after the Second World War, he emphasized that it is needed to face the current global problems, which can only to be solved though collective efforts.  He went on to recall the recent political changes in his country, which ended a period of autocracy prevailing since 2008, when the judiciary was hijacked, Parliament brought to a standstill and the media gagged.

During that period, he continued, the Maldives also broke off from the Commonwealth, but has now begun the process of re‑joining it.  Praising the new political landscape following his victory exactly a year ago in September 2018, he cited education, good governance, the creation of business opportunities and the protection of ecosystems and coral reefs as some of his country’s most important undertakings.  The Government is also extending reform efforts to the judicial and police systems, the fight against corruption, murder investigations and human rights abuses, which are crucial for a “meaningful democracy” to serve its citizens beyond the celebration of elections, he said.

Describing terrorism and violent extremism as among the most pressing issues of modern times, he said their origins can be traced not only to disaffection and disenchantment brought on by a fast‑changing world, but also to the efforts of opportunists “who twist religion and poison young minds”.  Recalling the terrorist attacks carried out on 29 April against Christians in Sri Lanka, he called for global action through the sharing of intelligence as well as counter‑terrorism training and reforming financial systems in order to starve terrorist networks of funding.

Spotlighting the question of Palestine, he affirmed that the inalienable rights of Palestinians have been “acutely and blatantly dismissed by Israel, marginalized and discriminated against, in complete disregard of international law”.  Expressing support for a two‑State solution, he called for a genuine and meaningful dialogue between Arab countries and Israel, urging the United Nations and Member States to undertake every effort to work towards settlement of the issue.

He went on to state that climate change remains the most pressing issue for the Maldives, an insular State, emphasizing:  “It threatens our very existence as a nation.”  The Government has revised and scaled up its national determined contributions arising from the Paris Agreement, he said, explaining that his country has presented a plan that seeks to utilize natural solutions, promote innovation and introduce such measures as a complete ban on single‑use plastics by 2023 and further protection of marine areas, hopefully with the support of the international community.  He also called for peace and security in the Indian Ocean, noting that the South Asian Core is “one of the least integrated regions in the world, lacking regional governance and unable to reap the benefits of an effective multilateral order”.

TAMIM BIN HAMAD AL-THANI, Amir of Qatar, said the world faces enormous and diverse cross‑border challenges requiring multilateral action.  In such a situation, nothing can replace the wisdom contained in the United Nations Charter.  Emphasizing his country’s determination to address problems in the Gulf region through dialogue, he emphasized that blockades and sanctions are in no one’s interest.  Reiterating the need to work towards a regional security system that maintains security and stability throughout the Middle East, and particularly in the Gulf region, he said the unjust, unlawful and unjustified blockade imposed by some countries on Qatar continues.  Unconditional dialogue based on mutual respect and the lifting of the blockade are the only means by which to end the crisis, he emphasized, thanking the Amir of Kuwait, among others, for his efforts to resolve it.

Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory as well as its settlement activity, Judaization of Jerusalem and blockade of Gaza are happening in defiance of United Nations resolutions, he noted.  Permanent peace requires guaranteeing the rights of the Palestinian people on the basis of the pre‑1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian State, and the end of Israeli occupation, he noted.  Qatar will not stop supporting any effort aimed at realizing a just peace, he said, adding that his Government will continue to provide Palestinians with political and humanitarian support.  The tragedy in Syria is a major scandal and disgrace on humanity, he said, emphasizing that failure to impose a political solution is basically due to the Security Council’s inability to protect civilians and to the Syrian regime’s intransigence.  “Everyone listening to me knows that when we refer to the Security Council, we mean the major Powers,” he noted.  It is time for the Syrian people to have security, justice and a decent life through a political solution that fulfils their aspirations, in line with the Geneva Communiqué and Security Council resolutions, he stressed.

Turning to Yemen, he said that until that country’s people can implement agreed solutions without foreign intervention, there is no option but to support United Nations efforts to end the conflict as well as the Organization’s humanitarian efforts.  Turning to Libya, he called upon all actors to respect its people’s wish for a peaceful solution.  Intervention in that country’s affairs complicates the crisis, deters national reconciliation and contravenes Security Council resolutions, he said.  Noting his country’s hosting of negotiations between the United States and the Taliban, he said the talks made significant progress towards peace in Afghanistan before the United States decided to halt them.  He called upon the international community and effective regional States to join forces to achieve peace and stability in that country.

He went on to express confidence that the people of Sudan will move past their country’s current transitional phase, calling upon the United States, in that regard, to remove Sudan from its list of State sponsors of terrorism.  He noted that many countries are realizing the mistake of linking terrorism to a particular religion after they found themselves subjected to terrorist acts motivated by racism and ideology.  There is a political and moral need to go beyond confining terrorism to individuals and groups, and to deal with State crimes against unarmed civilians, he emphasized, adding that it is also necessary to distinguish between terrorism and resistance against occupation.

Recalling that the Qatar News Agency was subjected to digital piracy and espionage, he said the misuse of new communications technologies threatens the security of States and cordial relations among countries.  Qatar renews its proposal for an international conference on ways to address the issue in terms of international law, he said, adding that Qatar stands ready to host such a meeting under United Nations auspices.  He went on to underline the negative impact of climate change on implementation of the 2030 Agenda as well as Qatar’s consistent policy of protecting and promoting human rights on the basis of Arab and Islamic principles and values.  In that regard, Qatar has made significant achievements in terms of workers’ rights and working conditions, in coordination with the International Labour Organization (ILO), he said.

UELI MAURER, President of the Swiss Confederation, described a fast‑changing world in which the people have lost trust in politics, economics and international organizations like the United Nations.  Noting that the Organization’s Charter guarantees equality among the world’s nations, he expressed concern that for small countries, the principle of inequality is violated and the strength of larger States often prevails, reminding the latter that the smooth functioning of the international community depends on respect for those principles.  Noting that 2019 marks the seventieth anniversary of the signing of the Geneva Conventions, he said humanitarian commitment is at the heart of his country’s policy.

Urging the international community to act against hunger, ensure the availability of water supplies and education, fight climate change and reduce armed conflict, he expressed hope that humanity will use technology for the common good, and that knowledge will be shared and not limited by borders.  Digital technologies have the potential to transform the world, he said, emphasizing the key importance of research and innovation, although dangers and challenges include cyberattacks.  Rights like privacy must be protected and use of technologies should therefore rely on ethical principles and values.

He went on to hail the United Nations as “the only platform for change” and the only global institution, while stressing that it must be reformed in order to be stronger.  He also emphasized Geneva’s role as “one of the capitals of humankind”, hosting United Nations headquarters, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement as well as more the 400 non‑governmental organizations.

KOLINDA GRABAR-KITAROVIĆ, President of Croatia, said multilateralism is facing serious challenges but it provides the chance for reaching common goals.  “By standing alone and isolated, one fails,” she emphasized.  There is, however, room for improvement at the United Nations, she said, expressing support for the Organization’s reform agenda and the Secretary‑General’s continued efforts in that regard.  Croatia remains fully committed to implementing the 2030 Agenda as well as to the fight against climate change by implementing solutions that will transform its economy and society. 

“Just as European Union accession provided a blueprint for the transformation of governance, economy and society, Croatia sees the SDGs as a matrix for our future and an obligation to our citizens and the international community,” she stressed.  As both a Central European and Mediterranean country, Croatia is endowed with great biodiversity and is home to some 40,000 species, many of which are threatened species.  The country is focused on marine and coastal environmental preservation and recovery, biodiversity protection and the sustainable use of the sea and coastal areas. 

However, climate change and pollution threaten Croatia’s natural resources and the delicate ecosystem of the Adriatic Sea, she said.  Marine litter is a problem of increasing concern, threating marine life and having already impacted more than 700 marine species.  Plastic pollution in the seas and oceans is one of the greatest threats to humanity.  “Without the preservation of our waters and our marine life, there will be nothing to leave to future generations,” she warned, pointing to a recent study showing that on average people could be ingesting approximately 5 grams of plastic every week, about the weight of a credit card. 

In the Croatian part of the Adriatic Sea, 97 per cent of the waters on the beaches are of exceptional quality, she said, also adding:  “This we do not take for granted, nor can we allow ourselves to do so.”  Action is needed.  The clock is ticking.  “So today, instead of a lengthy speech, I want to use the remaining time to give real people a voice and emphasize again real action which inspires,” she emphasized.  The people of Zlarin, a Croatian island of 300, are dedicated to the preservation of their environment and home.  In 2018, young environmental enthusiasts gathered the entire local community to encourage the island’s residents to “take a break from plastic” to make Zlarin the first Adriatic island free of single‑use plastic and plastic waste within 12 months. 

“Their action was local, but their efforts were global,” she said.  Within  one year, the island has transformed.  By signing a symbolic declaration, all residents, caterers and merchants have rid disposable plastics from every day use.  Today, children on Zlarin educate hundreds of visiting tourists that plastic is not welcome on their island.  “In this Chamber here, we are running out of excuses for not following the example of the people of Zlarin,” she added. 

EVO MORALES AYMA, President of Bolivia, expressed concern that the multilateral system is deteriorating due to unilateral measures by some States which have decided to ignore global agreements, international law and basic principles of the United Nations Charter.  Fires, droughts, earthquakes and rising temperatures are threatening mankind and life on the planet.  “Mother Earth is our only home and it’s irreplaceable,” he stressed, warning that if the status quo continues, by 2100 the global temperature will increase 3 degrees.  Climate change would condemn millions to poverty and hunger, and lead to forced displacements, armed conflicts and refugee crises.  Noting the impact of forest fires in the Amazon, Oceania and Africa on flora, fauna and biodiversity, he said that in recent weeks Bolivia spent $15 million trying to extinguish forest fires at home.  He thanked the international community for its support toward that end and during the post‑recovery phase.

He went on to express concern about the arms trade, and the inequitable and unstable economic system that favors tax havens, perpetuating the dependency of economically weaker countries.  Inequality, hunger, poverty, the migrant crisis, epidemics and unemployment are not local, but global problems.  Human creativity and technological advances offer solutions to complex problems.  The United Nations must establish norms in this area, in which all States have a say.  A global oligarchy exists in which a handful of people define the political and economic destiny of humanity; 26 people have the same amount of money as 3.8 million. “This is unjust, this is immoral, this is unacceptable,” he said, adding, “The root of the problem lies with capitalism.”  That is why the United Nations is more relevant and important than ever.  Only joint action will help mankind overcome the problem, he asserted.

In contrast, he highlighted Bolivia’s positive developmental and economic indicators, which have been improving.  The country experienced the highest economic growth rate in South America — 4.9 per cent annually over the last six years — and recent years had seen declines in unemployment, illiteracy and extreme poverty.  At the same time, life expectancy and the minimum wage have increased. The country benefits from free healthcare.  Moving on to women’s empowerment, he noted that land ownership by women has increased, and that half of parliamentarians are women.  He credited the role of indigenous social movements, their community‑based socio‑economic model and the nationalization of natural resources for the country’s progress, which helped Bolivians “take control of our destiny”.  “We can say with pride and optimism that Bolivia can look forward to its future,” he added.

Moving on to Bolivia’s ongoing efforts to secure access to the Pacific Ocean from Chile, which had suffered a setback after an unfavorable decision by the International Court of Justice in 2018, he said, “We will never renounce the right to sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean.”  He called upon the United Nations to help promote good neighborly relations and to facilitate a mutually acceptable and lasting solution to the issue.  He reiterated his disapproval of the economic and financial blockade on Cuba, which he characterized as “an assault on all human rights”. He concluded by underlining his commitment to peace, social justice, well‑being and harmony with Mother Earth.

ABDULLAH II IBN AL HUSSEIN, King of Jordan, questioned what the future would look like if young people continued to be denied the rich fruits of new technology and global wealth, calling for fair and inclusive global growth.  He also questioned the outcome if people did not work together for a healthy and safe environment.  Water‑scarce countries like Jordan already know the dangers of climate change, he remarked. 

“A global crisis demands global action” without a delay, he continued, also questioning what tomorrow would look like if crises continued to displace millions of people and if people were still being disrespected and victimized for their faith.  Noting the dark criminal ideas that fuel the numerous atrocities at mosques, churches, synagogues and temples, he urged that “hard work by all of us is needed to defeat these groups and their message of hate and mistrust”.

Turning to the Palestinian‑Israeli conflict, he stressed that no crisis has done more global damage than that and called for the end of the occupation; its continuation is a global moral tragedy.  It is time to demonstrate that global justice and human rights belong to the Palestinians.  It begins with respect for the holy sites and rejecting all attempts to alter the legal status of East Jerusalem and the authentic historic character of the Holy City. 

“As Hashemite Custodian, I am bound by a special duty to protect Jerusalem’s Islamic and Christian holy sites,” he declared, also calling for an end to the conflict and for a just, lasting and durable peace through the realization of the two‑State solution.  Tolerance, compassion and the equality of all human beings are the values that make global harmony and collection action possible.  They are the values that permeate the United Nations Charter.

MOON JAE-IN, President of the Republic of Korea, said it has benefited immensely from the United Nations, which together with the international community helped his country overcome the scourge of war.  Today, the Republic of Korea is working with the international community to bring peace and prosperity to East Asia and the world.  Despite initial concerns about security, the PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games became a “peace Olympics” that created an opportunity to resume inter‑Korean talks and, later, dialogue between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  Decisions made by United States President Trump and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Chairman Kim Jong-Un provided the momentum behind dramatic change on the Korean Peninsula, he said, adding that his country, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the United States are setting their sights not only on denuclearization and peace, but also on the economic cooperation that will follow.  The Republic of Korea intends to create a “peace economy” modelled after the European Coal and Steel Community and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), creating a virtuous cycle of peace and economic cooperation.

Peace on the Korean Peninsula and peace throughout the world are inextricably linked, he continued, emphasizing that his country will continue dialogue with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and find a way toward complete denuclearization and permanent peace while also maintaining cooperation with other Member States.  Over the past year and a half, he said, dialogue and negotiations have produced significant results on the Korean Peninsula.  Once a symbol of division, Panmunjom has become a demilitarized area “in which not even a single pistol exists”.  Not a single confrontation has occurred since the signing of the inter‑Korean comprehensive military agreement on 19 September 2018.  He drew attention to the fact that 177 sets of remains have so far been recovered from Arrowhead Ridge, scene of the fiercest battle of the Korean War.  The easing of military tensions and solid trust among the leaders of both Koreas and the United States also set the stage for a momentous trilateral meeting at Panmunjom.

He said the principles to which he has firmly held in resolving issues related to the Korean Peninsula remain unchanged.  The first principle is zero tolerance for war, he said, adding that the longest‑running armistice in history must come to an end.  The second principle is a guarantee of mutual security that would make it possible to speed up denuclearization, create a regime of peace and, at the very least, suspend hostile acts while dialogue is ongoing.  The third principle, co‑prosperity, will involve enhancing mutual inclusiveness and inter‑dependence while also contributing to regional and global economic development.

He proposed that the demilitarized zone be turned into an international peace zone.  Stretching 250 kilometres across the Korean Peninsula, it represents military confrontation and the tragedy of division, but paradoxically it is also a pristine ecological treasure trove.  “The demilitarized zone is the common heritage of humankind and its value must be shared with the whole world,” he said, adding that once peace is established, he will work together with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to inscribe the zone as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site.  He acknowledged there are 380,000 anti‑personnel mines in the demilitarized zone but added that international cooperation can guarantee the stability and transparency of such an endeavour.

Emphasizing that free trade and fair competition are the foundations of East Asia’s post‑colonial prosperity, he said further progress can be achieved if States cooperate while also safeguarding those two principles and reflect on past history.  He underscored the considerable efforts his Government is making vis‑à‑vis the SDGs and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, as well as its contribution of military personnel to United Nations peacekeeping missions and its support for the Action for Peacekeeping initiative.  One hundred years after the Korean people launched the March First Independence Movement against Japan’s colonial rule, the Republic of Korea is leading efforts towards peaceful coexistence and equality, he said, adding that it will continue to work to ensure that international peace and security are realized on the Korean Peninsula.

ROCH MARC CHRISTIAN KABORÉ, President of the Faso and President of the Council of Ministers of Burkina Faso, said it is imperative to strengthen multilateralism and the role of the United Nations to address the world’s common problems, including terrorism and poverty.  Since 2016, Burkina Faso has faced ongoing terrorist attacks, unprecedented in scope, and the surge in violence and insecurity has provoked an unparalleled humanitarian crisis.  He expressed appreciation for the United Nations support, including access to the Peacebuilding Fund, adding that his Government is awaiting the recommendations of an evaluation carried out earlier this year by the African Development Bank, the European Union and the World Bank.  More than ever, the international community must intensify its efforts to eradicate poverty, which remains the sine qua non condition for sustainable and inclusive development.

Expressing concern about the security situation in the G5 Sahel (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger) countries, and speaking as that entity’s current President, he said the activities of armed terrorist groups are spreading throughout the subregion and beyond.  The Accra Initiative on Health and the recent security summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) indicate that the struggle against terrorism needs to be at the regional level.  He urged the Security Council to give the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) a more robust and offensive mandate and to grant a Chapter VII mandate to the G5 Sahel Joint Force to ensure it has ongoing resources.  He also called all partners to back a proposed international partnership for security and stability in the Sahel, as presented at the most recent Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, France.

Underscoring the link between security and development, he reiterated his call for bilateral and international solidarity in providing the G5 Sahel Joint Force with the equipment and financial resources it requires.  There can be no stability in the Sahel without a political solution to the crisis in Libya, he added.  On the situation within his country, he said his Government is pursuing its programme to meet the basic needs of the population, strengthen democracy and consolidate the rule of law.  He also noted the progress that resulted from dialogue with the political opposition in July.

He went on to stress the connection between climate change and desertification, emphasizing that for his country, the latter has resulted in population displacements as well as friction between farmers and herders.  Burkina Faso’s response includes a five‑year reforestation programme and a disaster preparation plan.  He added that despite its difficult security context, his country is contributing troops to peacekeeping operations in Mali, Darfur and Guinea‑Bissau, with efforts being made to increase the contribution of women to those missions.

The security crisis in the Sahel is the direct result of the breakdown of the Libyan State, he said, calling on the international community to find a solution for lasting peace in that country.  He commended United Nations mediation efforts and strongly recommended that the African Union be involved as well.  He went on to reiterate support for the peace process in Western Sahara and called on the Organization to appoint a representative who understands the situation there well.  He also emphasized that the proliferation of small arms and light weapons are weighing down the ability of the Sahel to achieve the SDGs.  More funding for official development assistance (ODA)and the Green Climate Fund will give millions the prospect of a better future, he said.

SEBASTIÁN PIÑERA, President of Chile, said that while each generation faces its own set of challenges, none have faced the existential threat of climate change and global warming.  “What is at stake is not the planet itself, but the survival of the whole human race,” he stressed, adding that over 99 of every 100 species that ever existed are long gone.  This is not an environmental challenge but a moral one.  Future generations have a right to live in a better planet than the one this generation inherited.  “And we will be judged, rightfully and harshly, on how we faced global warming, the ultimate challenge, as the first generation that had to — and the last one able to act in order to avoid a catastrophe,” he declared.

As host of COP25 [Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] in December, Chile will aim to bring countries into compliance with more ambitious goals to combat climate change and will promote the engagement of Governments, non-governmental organizations, private companies and civil society, he continued.  For its part, Chile has committed to becoming a carbon neutral country by the year 2050.  It will embark on this goal by replacing fossil fuels with clean, renewable energies by 2040 and protecting its forests.  “We have to leave this ‘throwaway culture’ behind to embrace a recycling culture instead,” he emphasized, urging countries to transition from a linear economy to a circular one that reuses waste.

Turning to the great contamination issues that the Quintero and Punchucaví communities face in Chile, he said his Government is implementing a demanding and updated plan to decontaminate those areas.  Chile is dealing with the complex challenge caused by droughts and water scarcity by passing decrees and agricultural emergency that will allow the procurement of safe drinking water, pumps, and water ponds.  However, droughts do not only occur in Chile; in fact, they are affecting vast territories and segments of the global population, he added, underscoring the need for urgent and efficient action all over the world.  “Without water, there can be no life,” he said.

Turning to the global economy, he expressed concern for trade and international investment stagnation, the long-standing price war between the two major economic powers, the rise of protectionism, and the growing trade embargo measures of the World Trade Organization (WTO).  Such matters damage countries’ ability to expand, create employment and improve the life quality of every people around the world.  The international community needs to rebuild a respected rules-based multilateral economic order that promotes free trade, stands against protectionism, erases trade barriers and bans unilateral action that goes against the international order.  It is paramount to reform, upgrade and strengthen the WTO to allow for better dialogue among the international community.

Touching on matters concerning the wider Latin American region, he said for those countries to truly profit from the enormous potential of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, they must work to combat corruption and populism.  Governments must invest in science and technology; modernize the State; and move toward inclusive societies.  A major challenge for Latin America is ending the Venezuelan dictatorship which remains a tyranny that has no respect for human rights and is highly connected to drug trafficking.  “The country with the world’s biggest oil reserves, and until two decades ago, the highest development rates in Latin America, today is literally watching its citizens die due to a lack of food and medications or migrate by the million hoping to have a chance for a better life,” he pointed out.  The solution, as interim president Juan Guaidó has set out, is to appoint a transitional Government through free and democratic elections. 

EMMANUEL MACRON, President of France, said the world faces “unprecedented” challenges on many fronts, particularly climate change and biodiversity.  This could lead to a feeling of pessimism and a sense that this is “the age of impunity”, in the words of David Miliband.  Despite having abundant scientific knowledge to meet prevailing challenges, courage and a sense of responsibility are lacking, he said.  Referring to growing tensions in the Gulf, thanks to “the American strategy on Iran”, he emphasized that courage does not translate to “provocations and reprisals”.  The 14 September attacks against Saudi Arabia changed the situation, he said, adding:  “The consequences for the region are too serious for us to live on the edge of a cliff.”  Calling for signatories to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to begin renegotiations, he said the aim should be to ensure Iran never gains access to nuclear weapons, to seek a solution to the crisis in Yemen, and to forge a regional security plan.

Moving on to the situations in Syria and the Sahel, he stressed the importance of building peace through lasting political solutions.  France applauds the establishment of the Syrian Constitutional Committee by the United Nations, he said, while underlining the need for vigilance regarding the humanitarian situation in Idlib Governorate, to ensure the voluntary safe return of refugees, and to facilitate a free electoral process.  Turning to Libya, he reiterated France’s commitment to building lasting peace in the Sahel and called upon member States of the G5 Sahel to stabilize the region by engaging their armed forces in fighting terrorism and by changing the mandate of MINUSMA.

Highlighting progress on the situation in Sudan, thanks to the work of the African Union and the “clairvoyance” of Ethiopia, he said lasting peace can only be built through effective cooperation between States.  “Going back to what President Trump said today, I don’t think crises can be solved by isolationism,” he added.  Emphasizing the importance of strong multilateralism, based on cooperation, he recalled that such an approach was used effectively during climate negotiations at the One Planet Summit.  “Contemporary capitalism is dysfunctional; it has produced unprecedented inequality across regions, gender, health and climate,” he said, stressing the need to move away from narrow or short-term interests to actions based on facts.

France is committed to combating inequality, he said, highlighting the Africa-France Summit to be held in June, with the support of the African Development Bank.  It will feature an initiative to support women entrepreneurs, he said.  He went on to assail “backsliding” on gender inequality, including in France, where “the killing of women continues”.  There is also backsliding on access to health care around the world, he said, expressing support for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.  “It is inconceivable that people should lack access to prevention or cures for diseases for financial reasons.”

Addressing the “constant paradox” on climate, he said it is leading to people becoming collectively jaded.  “We give young people the possibility of speaking their minds, but then we act as we have in the past,” he added.  “That cannot continue.”  There is need for concrete steps to change the collective approach and to work towards a carbon-neutral economy by 2050, he said, noting in that regard that COP25 in Chile and COP26 in Europe will be decisive events.  He went on to express concern that building new polluting facilities in developing countries, some of which are financed by developed countries, is “inconsistent and irresponsible”.  However, it is not as though France is doing fantastically well on this front since it continues to import products that lead to deforestation, he noted.  Underlining the need for consistency in words and actions, he said:  “We have no other choice in any case.”

ZELJKO KOMSIC, Chairman, Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, emphasized his country’s commitment to sustainable development and to integrating social, economic and environmental dimensions, as evinced by its first voluntary review during the 2019 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.  Strongly committed to implementing the 2030 Agenda Goals — including eradicating poverty, reducing world hunger, protecting the environment and “handling of the evident climate changes” — Bosnia and Herzegovina is also committed to regional stability and to accelerating reform processes, which are required for the country’s application for membership of the European Union.  Some reforms call for eliminating systematic discrimination, “which, unfortunately, is set out in certain provisions of various legislative acts”, he said, adding that his country will need to undergo a “process of maturation” in order to implement necessary reforms without “major socio-political strains”.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is an active contributor to regional security, he continued, noting that it is particularly committed to fighting organized crime, violent extremism and illegal migration.  Highlighting his country’s role in strengthening regional participation through infrastructure projects as well as regional initiatives, such as the Council of Europe, he nonetheless criticized certain neighbouring countries for seeking to realize their own political interests within Bosnia and Herzegovina, causing unrest and destabilization.  Turning to the “progressively more complex conflicts” in the Middle East and Africa, he noted the role of preventive diplomacy in the peaceful resolution of disputes.

He went on to express Bosnia and Herzegovina’s commitment to fighting terrorism, narcotics production and human trafficking.  Emphasizing the “direct correlation between security and sustainable development” in bringing stability to post-conflict societies, he pledged to support United Nations activities in that regard.  He also highlighted his country’s commitment to combating the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery.  In addition, he explicitly opposed support to non-State actors seeking to develop, transfer or use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.

Spotlighting his country’s commitment to fighting all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse, as evinced by his signing of an agreement with the United Nations, he said he will also implement policies to strengthen the rights of children.  However, he expressed concern that the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina insufficiently regulates racial discrimination, while emphasizing nonetheless that such “deviant phenomena” are addressed through criminal legislation.  Constitutional and legal reforms must be undertaken in order to meet European standards, which is the equality of all citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, he said, stressing that for that to be possible, domestic political actors must agree to remove obstacles to integration into the European Union.

Underlining Bosnia and Herzegovina’s commitment to ensuring that all those suspected of committing war crimes in the territory of the former Yugoslavia are brought to justice, he noted his country’s full co-operation with the International Residual Mechanism Criminal Tribunals.  Turning to the Security Council, he pointed out that developing countries are underrepresented.  “Given that the number of Eastern European countries has more than doubled, we expect that the reformed Security Council will be expanded with additional seats for non-permanent members of the Eastern European group of countries,” he said.

JOÃO MANUEL GONÇALVES LOURENÇO, President of Angola, called for common action to tackle such global challenges as hunger, poverty, endemic diseases, human and drug trafficking, illegal immigration and terrorism.  In order to create an environment conducive for social progress and development, all nations must focus on the peaceful resolution of conflicts that can lead to a permanent climate of tension and imminent war.  Underlining the importance of multilateralism in international relations — “as it alone contributes effectively to the world’s peace and security” — he called for a reform of the United Nations aimed at allowing the Organization to better fulfil its responsibilities.  In that regard, he reiterated the need to increase the number of permanent members of the Security Council, including seats for Africa and South America in particular, to render the organ fairer and more reflective of global geographic balance.

Spotlighting tensions on the Korean Peninsula as a major concern and a continuing threat to world peace, he welcomed diplomatic efforts on that front and went on to voice further concern about the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict and rising tensions in the Persian Gulf, appealing for moderation from all parties.  Turning to Africa, he said the continent has been ravaged by terrorism, especially that of a religious fundamentalist nature which affects countries including Mali, Niger, Cameroon, Chad and Somalia.  The international community and the African Union should pay particular attention to the need to normalize the situation in Libya, as territories controlled by different militias are the logistical source of arms and ammunition of the fundamentalist groups in Africa.  He also outlined Angola’s contributions to conflict prevention and resolution efforts in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) subregion, as well as the Great Lakes and Central Africa.

“The world is helplessly watching the phenomenon of climate change and global warming,” he continued, citing such devastating consequences as typhoons, tsunamis, flood and severe droughts.  Also drawing attention to the irresponsibility of those who persist in ignoring those signs and feel entitled to continue supporting polluting industries, he welcomed recent climate protests in hundreds of countries around the globe “which have become a true human cordon […] in defence of our planet, our common home”.  In that vein, he called on Member States to work together to preserve remaining rain forests in South America, Africa and Asia and spotlighted the importance of advancing the Sustainable Development Goals.  While noble and fair, those targets do not in themselves guarantee better results; in order to achieve the desired sustainable development, positive brainstorming is needed to identify actions appropriate to the concrete realities of countries.

Indeed, he stressed, conflicts, hunger, misery and disease are not only eliminated through political and bureaucratic solutions.  Above all, good governance and action to combat corruption are required, as are efforts to protect the environment and strengthen the values of human dignity, responsible and inclusive citizenship, social justice and equality of opportunity.  Highlighting the critical role of youth — “the only driving force capable of overcoming all challenges” — he called for initiatives aimed at deepening the quality of education.  He went on to outline Angola’s ongoing reforms, aimed at building a democratic State guided by the rule of law, a culture of accountability and a business environment attractive to foreign and domestic investors.  Among other things, he said, the country is working to increase its domestic production of goods and services and reduce imports of basic necessities, thereby boosting employment.

MARCELO REBELO DE SOUSA, President of Portugal, reflecting on the world’s failure to embrace multilateralism in the form of the League of Nations and the subsequent war that followed, stated that it is worth fighting for international law, international organizations and a multilateral vision shared by everyone.  The lessons of history must be learned and, as the world changes, “the most prudent stance” is to support the United Nations and to facilitate networking, dialogue and conflict prevention.

He called for multilateralism, investment in international organizations, timely payments of assessed contributions and participation in peacekeeping operations.  He also called for a readjustment of the Security Council’s membership — demanding, at the very least, the presence of Africa, Brazil and India — and for adoption of a resolution condemning the death penalty and for the implementation of, and engagement in, several international agreements including the Paris Agreement and the Twenty-fifth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or COP25.

Highlighting Portugal’s participation in eight peacekeeping operations and European Union capacity-building missions, he stated that the protection of civilians is an international responsibility and affirmed Portugal’s unconditional support for the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration and the Global Compact on Refugees.  As a country of migrants, Portugal “welcomes those who come to us,” and rejects xenophobia and intolerance.  Education is a priority, he said, noting the Global Support Platform for Syrian Students, an initiative of his predecessor.  He also advocated inclusive and sustainable development as a “decisive factor” in combating terrorism and safeguarding peace and the rights of people and communities.

Citing the many global and regional problems that the international community currently faces — such as the rising tensions between leading players on the international scene, the rush to economic and cyber warfare and a disinvestment in international law and international organizations — he stated that only those that do not know history — “and therefore do not mind repeating the mistakes of the past” — minimize the role of the United Nations.  Urging the international community not to repeat the same mistakes of the League of Nations, he stated that “we need more, and not less, United Nations.”

PAUL KAGAME, President of Rwanda, said the international community stands at a crossroads.  The world is now at either a turning point or at a moment when multilateralism has lost its way.  At a time when there are clear pathways forward in terms of climate change and other critical issues, he said the climate, sustainable development and the global health challenge are now in the spotlight.  In Rwanda, more than 90 per cent of the population is covered by health insurance.  While the 2030 Agenda objectives are also Africa’s goals, the continent continues to lag in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, even when some African countries are experiencing exponential economic growth.  However, prosperity must be evenly distributed and countries must work together.

African countries are working towards taking climate action with a view acknowledging that sustainable development does not mean slower economic growth, he continued.  Security and stability are the key to more rapid progress.  As such, African countries and the rest of the international community must work together on peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts with mutual respect.

For its part, Rwanda is taking steps in various areas, including by preparing to welcome refugees from Libya, he said.  Indeed, African countries are working together on a range of issues.  Moreover, Africa is a source of solutions, and Rwanda stands ready to do its part.  This includes by guaranteeing the rights and opportunity of women and girls, he said, adding that Kigali will host the Global Gender Summit in November.

SAULI NIINISTÖ, President of Finland said that crucial questions about the international community’s trust in a sustainable future are at the heart of the two major summits in New York this week.  Despite the joint commitments made to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change, the results are far too meagre.  The inability to keep promises in matters of such magnitude will inevitably erode trust, not just that of citizens in their leaders, but also between generations, he cautioned.

The scientific evidence on climate change has been clear for a long time, he continued.  Melting glaciers, large-scale forest fires, and extreme weather events, across the globe, from the Arctic to the Amazon, prove that climate change is here already.  Even if the international community were able to stop all CO2 emissions tomorrow, it would have to live, for decades to come, with the climate change already caused.  Finland has recently set new climate targets, he added, highlighting his Government’s commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035.  The country has banned the energy use of coal by 2029 and will stop using fossil fuel in heating by 2030.

Turning to multilateralism, he noted that the concept is increasingly under threat, from great-power competition and from lack of respect for existing agreements.  “Passively complaining about the crisis of multilateralism will not help,” he said, emphasizing the responsibility of the United Nations.  The disappearing trust in institutions and regimes is particularly dangerous in the field of arms control, he pointed out, expressing support for the Secretary‑General’s efforts to bring the disarmament agenda back to the core of the Organization.

Also calling on the international community to seek solutions to the many ongoing wars and conflicts in the Middle East, in Africa, in Ukraine and elsewhere, he added that his country has always emphasized the value of dialogue in its own diplomatic relations.  Trust in each other is also closely linked to equality between genders and generations, and women and youth need to be included in peace processes, conflict prevention and mediations.

Noting the approaching twenty-fifth anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, “the most progressive policy document for advancing the rights of women,” he lamented that “unfortunately there is not much cause for celebration”.  Respect for universal human rights is the key to a just and peaceful world.  Finland has announced its candidature to the Human Rights Council.  “Our common global problems call for common global solutions,” he said, and there is no Organization better placed to lead that work than the United Nations.

ALBERT II of Monaco said the world must respond to the call to action from young people at the recent Climate Action Summit.  Monaco aims to reduce carbon levels by, among other things, adopting proactive policies that also focus on preserving health, fighting climate change and fostering a low-carbon economy.  Monaco will also participate in the Green Fund and has committed itself to actions that respond to biodiversity challenges, including through projects to protect forests and preserve the seas and oceans.  It is up to the world today to follow the scientists’ recommendations.

While commending the Secretary-General’s related efforts, he said international institutions and civil servants cannot be held responsible for Member States’ inaction.  “Our common future must include sustainable development by 2030,” he said, adding that working together is essential.  The Global Report on Sustainable Development cited critical challenges that may be at a point of no return unless action is taken.  However, favourable development can already be seen in the reduction of extreme poverty and improvements in children’s health.  Still, environmental degradation is speeding up, more than half the global population remains deprived of basic services and too many children do not attend school.

Monaco supports efforts to create a more harmonious world, he said, noting that sustainable development must guide the way forward.  At the same time, women and girls must not be side-lined in the move towards a more sustainable future, he said, noting that Monaco had hosted an event addressing a range of related challenges.  Turning to other concerns, he said new technology is a double-edged sword, with benefits and drawbacks.  In an interconnected world, cooperative efforts must ensure that nations large and small benefit from such technological developments, with multilateral institutions helping to manage interdependence, which will only reinforce each State’s sovereignty.  The United Nations Charter outlines common goals, and Member States have made important leaps forward, including through adopting resolutions, from disarmament to human rights.  The strength of States is demonstrated in their unity, he said, underlining the importance of working together. 

MAHAMADOU ISSOUFOU, President of Niger, said the current Assembly session’s theme is pertinent for several reasons, including by demonstrating that multilateralism is critical and more important than ever before.  The world must engage in win-win cooperation — not in a zero-sum approach — because national interests benefit from cooperation among nations, he said, citing a range of common challenges — from increased migratory flows to the impact of climate change.  Yet many disparities exist, he said, adding that “we are in a world where some die of obesity and others die of hunger”, where the “1 per cent” enjoy the vast majority of wealth at a time when inequalities are increasing.  Reform measures must be implemented to galvanize multilateralism, including steps to ensure an equitable representation in the Security Council and to improve economic institutions.

In fact, without reforms, achieving the 2030 Agenda will be impossible, he went on to say.  Despite progress, the world is not on track, and nations must commit to specific actions that will collectively have a positive impact on several Sustainable Development Goals.  Financial resources are essential, as are plugging financing gaps and redirecting resources to focus on achieving gains in areas such as education and health care.  Turning to the African Union’s Agenda 2063, he said gains must be made in terms of developing infrastructure, education and agriculture.  All this can be achieved only with deep reforms.  For its part, Niger has implemented the Agenda 2063, including by creating jobs for young people.

Turning to the threat of terrorism, he said the international community has taken steps in Afghanistan and other nations to combat its spread, yet much remains to be done in the Sahel region.  The international community bears serious responsibility in dealing with the crises in Libya and in the Sahel, where Boko Haram and other terrorist groups operate.  Appointment of a joint United Nations-African Union Special Envoy for Libya would be one step, and, in the Lake Chad Basin region, efforts must tackle the spread of terrorist groups that are fuelling inter-communal conflict.  Niger participated in a regional conference on these challenges, he said, highlighting recent discussions on extending the MINUSMA mandate.  Welcoming the joint French-German partnership on a security plan for the Sahel region, he thanked all partners that are contributing to regional stability.

Acknowledging the direct link between poverty, terrorism and climate change, he appealed to all Member States to implement agreements made at the Climate Action Summit on 23 September.  Immediate commitments underpin the survival of humanity.  Niger is highlighting climate change resilience across sectors, from local planning to agriculture, and is adopting measures to integrate carbon reduction efforts in energy sectors.  The climate investment plan for the Sahel region is another productive step, he said, calling for the international community’s support.

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, adopted in Marrakech in 2018, outlines steps needed to address the issues of migration, he said, underlining a need to examine its implementation and expressing hope that the root causes are addressed.  More broadly, strategies must adapt to the changing world — from migration to climate action — with the United Nations strengthening its role through reform so it can carry out its mission.  Calling for a new global governance model, he said the one adopted following the Second World War model is now no longer enough to help the world overcome its current challenges.

WILLEM-ALEXANDER, King of the Netherlands stated that close multilateral cooperation within a broad partnership of States offers the best guarantee of freedom, security and prosperity for all.  He said that such cooperation is under pressure, should be cherished as a precious achievement, and therefore Member States need each other more than ever.

Citing “The Future We Want, the United Nations System We Need” — the theme of all activities, meetings and conferences in 2020 — he stressed the importance of the voice of youth, calling for a fair, clean and sustainable world where no one is left behind and there is no fear of violence, want or oppression.  Expressing concern that young people in several countries and regions risk losing all hope for a better future, he pointed to Venezuela and stated the importance of free and fair elections as a way out of the current stalemate.

The rights and opportunities of minorities are not respected in many places, he continued, noting the importance of firm support of the freedom of religion and belief, especially where the majority professes a different faith.  In contrast, he welcomed the fact that the rights of lesbian, gay and transgender people and other minority communities are increasingly affirmed in countries worldwide.  “The fight against discrimination, whether open or hidden, must continue on every continent”, he said.  Adding that human rights are for everyone, even those who have committed crimes, he called for the abolition of the death penalty worldwide.

Addressing the plight of refugees and victims of war and violence, he highlighted his country’s involvement in the Secretary-General’s efforts to make United Nations peace missions more effective.  Those guilty of genocide, war crimes, terrorism or human trafficking must be held to account.  In addition, as it is unacceptable for those responsible for international crimes to escape just punishment, he underscored that Security Council resolution 2166 (2014) calls for all countries, including the Russian Federation, to cooperate fully with efforts to establish the truth about the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight 17 on 17 July, 2014.

Turning to the Sustainable Development Goals, he observed that in 30 years, the number of people living in extreme poverty had been lowered from one in three to one in ten.  However, championing sustainable development requires championing climate action, one of the biggest threats to those goals.  Given the difficulty of transitioning to a sustainable circular economy, international cooperation is paramount.  The Netherlands aims to cut emissions almost in half by 2030 compared to 1990 levels and is partnering with Costa Rica to help developing countries raise their climate ambitions and take action.

MAURICIO MACRI, President of Argentina, highlighted the need for the international community to work together to address global challenges, search for consensus and build collective action.  Indeed, he stated, the “world is much more of an opportunity than it is a threat.”  Pointing out that Argentine’s area diverse, multicultural people   who co-exist peacefully, he said that Argentina wants to be a part of the international order of the twenty-first century, to promote dialogue and respect as principles with which to build a shared future.

Argentina’s commitment to multilateralism goes further, he continued, highlighting the country’s positive role in strengthening international peace and security by promoting the peaceful use of nuclear energy, pursuing the development of outer space and fighting terrorism and transnational organized crime.  On this, he expressed Argentina’s robust commitment to non-proliferation.  He added that his country’s commitment to fighting terrorism in all its forms is “firmer than it has ever been,” as it has taken steps to strengthen the exchange of information and measures aimed at preventing the financing of terrorist activities.

Despite this, however, he pointed to Argentina’s still-open wounds – namely, the 1992 attack on the Israeli embassy and the 1994 attack on the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina building in Buenos Aires.  He called on Iran to cooperate with Argentine authorities in resolving these matters.  Argentina has made positive steps in domestic security, he said, such as fighting drug trafficking and money laundering, seizing drugs, capturing fugitives, dismantling criminal networks and reducing corruption.  In this area, he highlighted Argentina’s work with other Latin American and Caribbean States to build the consensus necessary to create a regional legal body to address transnational organized crime.

Turning to climate change, he committed to sustainable development and called on the world to act in accordance with the Paris Agreement.  For Argentina’s part, he pointed out his country’s efforts to engage in low-emission policy with an eye towards achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, supported by current efforts to increase energy efficiency, conserve ecosystems, promote renewable energy, increase forestation and encourage sustainable agriculture and animal husbandry.

Referencing the region’s profound appreciation of democracy, freedom and human rights, he condemned the human rights violations in Venezuela under the dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro.  As the mass exodus of people from Venezuela affects the stability of region, he called on the international community to “use all diplomatic and legal tools available” to help Venezuelans live in peace and democracy. He also reaffirmed Argentine sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia Islands and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas, calling on the United Kingdom to renew bilateral negotiations to find a peaceful and lasting solution to the dispute.  Given trends towards fragmentation in the international community, he said that the path to a better future lies in more cooperation and better multilateralism, urging that “the outcome depends on us.”

EGILS LEVITS, President of Latvia, said a strong multilateral, inclusive and rules-based international order is essential for global peace and security, and that the multilateral order demands respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty by all Member States.  However, the Russian Federation continues to show open disrespect for the principles of international law through violation of Ukraine’s and Georgia’s territorial integrity, which must not be accepted as the “new normal”.

Turning to hybrid threats to States and democracy, he noted that international law is no longer violated solely through direct military force, but increasingly through disinformation, cyber-attacks, economic influence and election interference.  As hybrid threats recognize no national borders, no country is immune and international cooperation and national development are at risk.  The United Nations must therefore play a significant global role in promoting peace, security and stability in cyberspace.

He affirmed that digital technologies have helped humanity progress, but the international community must prevent malicious use of them.  With vast amounts of personal data in every domain collected every second by State and non-State actors, and the emergence of facial recognition, everyone coming under constant surveillance, and yet the rules protecting that data are opaque.  He stressed the humans must retain control over artificial intelligence, never allowing it to make legally-binding decisions over people.

Climate change is also global, he noted, and must be tackled on international, State and individual levels.  He cited the pivotal role of youth in climate action, as witnessed in the recent Youth Climate Summit.  He added that technology and innovation have a leading role in healing the planet, pointing out that Latvian information technology companies have joined the Green Pledge launched by neighbouring Estonia.  His Government is committed to the Paris Agreement goals, having reduced greenhouse gas emissions by almost 60 per cent compared to 1990 levels, and is working on a low carbon development strategy to reach climate neutrality by 2050.

Stating that his Government’s committed to Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals, he stressed the importance of gender equality and the empowerment of women, which is “not only the right thing to do, but also the smart thing from the economic perspective”.  Latvia is one of the few countries to have closed the gender gap in health and educational attainment, ranking above the 80 per cent milestone for economic participation and opportunity according to the 2018 World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report.  Pointing to the impressive change in Latvia since the end of the Cold War, he said the United Nations can also resolve the global challenges of today but must evolve to remain effective, notably through Security Council reform.

ZUZANA ČAPUTOVÁ, President of Slovakia, recalled the many great achievements of the United Nations as a result of respect for rules and principles.  The best way to build trust is to respect, live and act by the rules.  Mutual trust is the invisible silver linking that holds societies together.  However, speaking as a lawyer and long-time activist, she noted that many rules and principles are under immense pressure, including dangerous attempts to twist or break them.

When one country strips territory from another, it must be seen as occupation and not mistaken as peace-making, she continued.  Suppressing human rights of minorities cannot be confused with combating extremism.  Spreading hate or false propaganda cannot be called freedom of speech and the use of chemical weapons cannot be justified as fighting terrorism.  These, among other examples, are reasons for a strong United Nations acting as a guardian of rules.

The international community faces serious difficulties in agreeing on new rules, particularly those concerning climate change and new technologies such as artificial intelligence, she said.  More than ever, responsible Governments must draw their legitimacy from the trust of their people, refrain from populism and “keep their own ego under control”, she added.  Increasingly, leaders talk about putting national interests before the global good.  Yet the best way to be patriotic lies not in national egoism, but in cooperation.

She went on to say that the one thing that worries her the most at the global level is denial that climate change exists or that it is not so serious.  The scientific evidence is clear:  climate change is a fact and the world is running out of time.  Overcoming such fears means changing the old mind-set that going green is costly and unprofitable because, in the long run, green is far less costly and far more efficient.  For many years, it was politically unthinkable in Slovakia to close its subsidized coal mines, but now it has a credible plan to shutter those facilities, transform the entire coal-mining region and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, she said.

The Paris Agreement is central to staying on the right track on climate change, but there must be rapid and profound change in the way the world generates power, manages transportation and makes investments, she stressed, adding “we are in debt to this planet and to our children and we need to pay it back.”  Everyone must benefit from climate action, especially the most vulnerable, because the bottom line of development is the well-being and dignity of every human being.  United action on climate change can generate a new sense of solidarity in other areas, creating the basis for overcoming divisions among countries while also bringing forth new opportunities, she said.

KASSYM-JOMART TOKAYEV, President of Kazakhstan, said that achieving a world free of nuclear weapons remains a top priority for his country.  To that end, Kazakhstan closed the Semipalatinsk Test Site in 1991 and “voluntarily renounced the fourth-largest nuclear weapons arsenal in the world”.  The Government was involved in the establishment of the nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia and the recent ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  He emphasized that current issues on Iran’s Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula should be settled exclusively by political means.

Noting the growing economic might of the region, he said the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia must be transformed into a full-fledged regional organization for security and development.  In peacekeeping, his Government has joined India in co-deploying a 120-member unit to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).  Pointing to the “mutual hatred and violence” plaguing the Middle east, he stated Kazakhstan is ready to support bilateral and multilateral actions to find viable solutions for peace.  He noted the importance of the Astana Process in the cessation of Syrian hostilities and establishing de-escalation zones to facilitate the safe return of refugees.

Turning to economic growth, he said formerly weak ties between Central Asian States are improving but require close political dialogue among all five regional countries.  As the largest economy in Central Asia, Kazakhstan has a vital interest in strengthening mutually beneficial cooperation.  He noted the situation in Afghanistan directly impacts the region and expressed hope that “the Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process, assisted by all key stakeholders, will produce a lasting peace and prosperity”.

Noting that the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda is crucial to avoiding the “notorious middle-income country trap”, he said Kazakhstan has integrated the Sustainable Development Goals by 80 per cent into its strategic government programmes.  As one of the largest transit and transport hubs in Eurasia, Kazakhstan aims to play a pivotal role in promoting transcontinental trade as a member of the Eurasian Economic Union and partner in the One Belt One Road initiative.  On the domestic front, he stressed his Government’s commitment to building a modern welfare State but acknowledged that profound political transformation is still needed.  Democracy in Kazakhstan is a work in progress requiring regular scrutiny.

ANDRZEJ DUDA, President of Poland, said that peace, environmental protection and welfare are the three concepts that should bind the entire international community.  Peace must be achieved through respect for the law, environmental protection through cooperation and responsibility-sharing, and welfare through engaging for sustainable development.

The Second World War began with an attack on Poland by two totalitarian States and two criminal ideologies, he recalled, underscoring that despite the progress made in civilization and terrible lessons learnt, there are acts of incomprehensible barbarity perpetrated all over the world, including ethnic cleansing, mass murders and even genocide, as well as attempts to undermine sovereignty and territorial integrity of States.

Unfortunately, “not all of us have learnt from the cruel lesson of World War II,” he noted, stressing that every country has an equal right to self-determination.  Citing the situations in Ukraine and Georgia, State borders must not be changed by force, he warned.  In the last few years, international law has been often challenged and disavowed.  The law is not only for the benefit of States, but for humanity as a whole and for each individual.

Turning to the challenge of caring for the natural environment, he noted that Poland assumed the presidency of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) over the past year.  That presidency has produced a significant contribution to global climate policy, including the adoption of the Katowice Rulebook — a set of guidelines to operationalize the Paris Agreement.  Poland has also tabled five initiatives, including those to reduce emissions from households and from public transport, large-scale afforestation programs, plans for adapting cities to climate change and a long-term program to change economic profile of the economically strong Silesia region.  Environmental policy must be understood as a social policy and cannot be instrumentalized to gain economic advantages, he added.

It is also time to launch an international discussion on the modern model of welfare policy, he said.  Welfare policy should be based on the concept of sustainable development as set out in the 2030 Agenda.  In other words, it means responsibility, solidarity and justice, he emphasized, pointing out that education is fundamental, and the level of health protection must be raised.  It is time to introduce the concept of common wealth into the language of economic debate.  Shared responsibility should be the starting point for efforts to achieve a better future for incoming generations, he said.

ALOIS, Acting Head of State of Liechtenstein, said diplomacy and an active foreign policy have been crucial for his country’s survival as one of Europe’s smallest States.  Without its international connections, it would not have been recognized as a sovereign State nor could it have retained its sovereignty during two world wars.  Joining the United Nations in 1990 enabled Liechtenstein — a poor agrarian country of emigration just 60 years ago, but now a highly diversified and innovative economy — to help develop a rules-based international order and the rule of law.  Today, more than ever, it is committed to the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter.

The 2030 Agenda, with the challenge of climate change at its core, remains the central blueprint for the common future of the world, he said, underscoring the overwhelming need to involve the private sector, cities and local communities, among others.  One of Liechtenstein’s sustainability initiatives is a public-private partnership to create a tool kit — to be unveiled on 27 September — for financial institutions to combat modern forms of slavery.   He added that the strong engagement of young people on questions of sustainability should be welcomed, as they are calling for inter-generational justice to be a fundamental principle of policy-making.

Strengthening international law entails not only respect for agreed norms, but also developing new norms when necessary, he said.  For Liechtenstein, the International Criminal Court remains at the heart of the international fight against impunity, but its performance has not always matched expectations.  It is also exposed to the headwinds of isolationist and nationalist trends.  Hailing the Assembly’s creation of the International Impartial and Independent Mechanism to Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of Persons Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes under International Law Committed in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011, he said political discussions on a post-conflict Syria must take on broad accountability for atrocities.  Such discussions will not be easy, but they are necessary to create sustainable peace.

The success of the United Nations in preventing conflict has been mixed, due to divisions among permanent members of the Security Council and, recently, the excessive use of their veto power, he said.  But today, and more so than in a long time, there is a real danger of armed conflict with unforeseeable consequences, with the existence of nuclear weapons and the prospects of cyber warfare.  All Member States have subscribed to the strict rules on the use of force embodied in the Charter and the most serious forms of the illegal use of force have become criminal offenses through the Rome Statute and in many domestic legal systems.  Such new legal norms are needed more than ever.  Many conflicts today have, at their root, claims of self-determination.  Models for the innovative application of the right of self-determination need to be found in cases where independence is not a political option, he said, adding that his country is aiming to make this part of its contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

MARTIN VIZCARRA CORNEJO, President of Peru, calling on the international community to promote sustainable development while protecting the planet, said that growing social and economic inequality and the high levels of corruption and impunity across the globe are a major source of unrest.  The economic uncertainty that has dragged on since the major global financial crisis of 2008 has worsened due to tensions between major players.  Calling for multilateral solutions to these global problems, he reminded the international community of the lessons learned during the negotiations of 2015 that had led to historic agreements such as the 2030 Agenda.

Highlighting an initiative his country launched with Colombia, aimed at producing a United Nations mandate to organize in 2021 a special session of the General Assembly on corruption, he said that the fight against corruption must become “a global crusade.”  Noting that a year ago his country had been in the middle of a serious political crisis, he said his Government is seeking to restore the legitimacy of the country’s institutions and has established key norms aimed at political and judicial reform.  These include standards for the registration and financing of political parties as well as parity and alternation in the list of candidates for the Congress.

Peru’s economy continues to remain resilient despite challenges, he said, adding that the Government has undertaken participatory and inclusive reforms to tackle the challenges of development.  Recently established national plans for competitiveness, productivity and infrastructure include measures to bolster long-term and medium-term economic growth.  Stressing Peruvians’ capacity to overcome difference and work together, he said these plans will strengthen human capital, develop the capacity for innovation and promote foreign trade in goods and services.

Turning to Venezuela, he said that the “illegitimate regime” in that country has led to an exodus of more than 4 million people.  Noting that in August 2019, Peru hosted the International Conference for Democracy in Venezuela, he said the gathering illustrated the level of global concern about a crisis whose impact has crossed borders in the region.  The Conference recognized the urgent need to rectify the humanitarian situation in Venezuela, he said, also encouraging the international community to improve the World Trade Organization in order to increase transparency and stability in the multilateral trading system.

Noting that Peru is especially vulnerable to climate change, he said that the country has drawn up a realistic work plan for the next two years, in line with the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda.  As one of the 10 mega-diverse countries, he said, Peru has witnessed huge biodiversity losses, especially in the Amazon rainforest.  Reaffirming his country’s commitment to the rights of indigenous peoples who live there, he invited Governments to support the Leticia Pact to protect the Amazon.  Also highlighting Peru’s work during its July Presidency of the Security Council, he reaffirmed the country’s commitment to multilateralism as the only way to resolve climate change, the arms trade and other global problems.

MACKY SALL, President of Senegal, said that for all the difficulties posed by climate change and poverty, for millions of victims of war and terrorism the issues of peace and security loom larger, as existential questions.  In the Sahel region, deadly attacks by terrorist groups occur daily, displacing thousands of people and destroying basic social services.  A troop-contributor to MINUSMA, Senegal stands in solidarity with members of the G5 Sahel Joint Force.  Since terrorism knows no border, a counter-terrorism solution must be global.  The peace, security and stability of the Sahel is crucial to the security of world, he said, calling on the Security Council to give MINSUMA a robust mandate and adequate equipment to fight terrorism in the region.  Stressing that terrorism negates humanity and must be stopped, he said Senegal joined the Christchurch Call initiative launched by France and New Zealand in May aimed at eliminating terrorist and violent extremist content online.  His Government also firmly rejects populist discourse that feeds hate, racism and xenophobia.  

The United Nations remains the best hope for global compromise, he stressed, calling for more equitable representation of Africa in the Security Council.  “Africa does not need tutoring.  Africa needs partnerships,” he stressed.  That means fair exchanges that do not exaggerate the perceived risk of investing in the continent, protecting the rights of host countries as well as those of investors, and promoting the creation of local value chains.  Similarly, Senegal calls for a reform of the international tax system to counter tax fraud and evasion and money laundering which deprives Africa of $100 billion annually from economic activity on the continent.  

Senegal is pursuing its goal of becoming an emerging market economy by 2035 through infrastructure development projects and public investments begun in 2014, he said.  It is committed to boosting fisheries, livestock, transport infrastructure, energy, education, the digital economy, and new housing.  In addition, he continued, it is working to make public spending and government more efficient.  That compliments Senegal’s vision of a more inclusive country, investments in universal health coverage, family security grants for the most vulnerable groups, and an office to boost entrepreneurship.  

Senegal will host the World Water Forum in 2021 and the fourth Youth Olympic Games in 2022, the first African country to host the Olympics, he said, expressing hope the events will boost peace and fraternity among people and build a better, more welcoming world.

GIUSEPPE CONTE, President of the Council of Ministers of Italy, noting that a few months ago, the Secretary-General used the expression “a world of trouble” to describe the myriad challenges facing the international community, from climate change to trade disputes, called for an inclusive humanism to tackle them.  The recognition of personal and social dignity is crucial, he said, because without that foundation, multilateralism becomes merely technique.  His Government aims at establishing a truly human democracy, he said, adding that the country has launched “a new season of reforms” aimed at improving the life of its citizens.

Highlighting the need to accelerate implementation of the 2030 Agenda, he said Italy is expressing its commitment to that agreement in all walks, from the private sector to civil society.  Referring to the recent news of a glacier melting and putting at risk one of the most majestic mountains in the Alps, he said, “we cannot be indifferent.”  The Paris Agreement is a crucial starting point and the international community has a moral duty to deliver to its children a planet in the best health.  Italy, he pointed out, has already achieved the European Union goal of reducing emissions by 2020 and is working on a climate neutrality strategy.

Migration has deep causes for which immediate action as well as a long-term vision are necessary, he said.  Promotion of human rights is a priority for his Government, he added, stressing that as a member of the Human Rights Council, Italy’s action is inspired by the motto “Human Rights for Peace.”  The country has contributed its best armed forces and technology to peacekeeping, he noted, calling on the international community to make systematic steps for recourse at the first sign of conflict.  All sectors of society must be involved in mediation, he stressed.

Reaffirming Italy’s support for the Mediterranean Women Mediators Network, he highlighted another initiative in which every year hundreds of young people from countries in conflict are invited to live together and experience everyday dialogue in a small neighborhood in Tuscany.  Turning to Libya, he lamented that the country still did not have an opportunity to live in peace.  The international community must act in support of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and the Secretary-General’s Special Representative to that country, he said, adding that reaching a ceasefire is only the first step.  Further, all United Nations Member States must conform with the arms embargo in Libya, he said.

Calling for coordinated action between Europe and Africa, he highlighted a private project to promote socio-economic development in Africa involving an Italian energy company.  “We cannot forget the strategic importance of the Horn of Africa,” he said, adding that new threats to international security called for full implementation of all the non-proliferation regimes.  Imploring Iran to abide by its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, he said that the international community must keep open the necessary channels of dialogue with that country.

PEDRO SÁNCHEZ, President of Spain, said “the Earth is bleeding”, requiring urgent action on multiple fronts given that the challenges of the millennium exceed the limits and capacities of nations to deal with them.  Stressing that the need for sustainability is “not an ideological position, but an irrefutable scientific fact”, he called for multilateralism in addressing the emergency of climate change as witnessed in Hurricane Dorian, flooding in Spain and desertification in Libya.  His Government has set the goal of decarbonization by 2050 and will contribute €150 million to the Green Climate Fund over the next four years.  He said decades of efforts under the Montreal Protocol are regenerating the ozone layer and called for dialogue on the Green New Deal.

Noting a rising inequality gap, he said some recent reports indicate that by 2030, 1 per cent of the world’s population will have accumulated two-thirds of the planet’s total wealth, and that data from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) indicates over 800 million people worldwide suffer from hunger.  His Government will contribute €100 million over five years to the United Nations joint fund for the Sustainable Development Goals, and €100 million during the next three years to the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Turning to technological transformation and the digital revolution, he noted that only a part of the world has access to the advantages presented therein.  Fighting to close the digital gap is therefore also a Sustainable Development Goal.  He added that a just world also requires gender equality, stating he is “honoured to form part of a feminist Government”.  Spain will continue to promote a European Strategy on Gender in the European Union. 

Noting that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees  (UNHCR) reports that 70.8 million people are victims of forced displacement, 26 million of them being refugees, he stressed the potential regional impact of the crisis in Libya.  He added, however, that “Africa is synonymous with hope” and home to 6 of the 10 countries with the highest growth rates in the world.  On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, his Government remains committed to the two-State solution.  Pointing to rising tensions in the Persian Gulf, he called on regional parties to act with restraint.

He expressed sadness at the decision by the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union and hoped it will do so in an orderly manner.  He said that departure will have consequences for Gibraltar and stated an area of prosperity should be developed, encompassing neighbouring Campo de Gibraltar, generating social and economic convergence for the entire region.

JACINDA ARDERN, Prime Minister of New Zealand, said that the idea of countries existing in isolation from each other has become obsolete.  The world has become interdependent, with domestic decisions having global ramifications.  New Zealand experienced this worldwide connectedness first-hand on 15 March 2019, when an alleged terrorist “undertook the most horrific attack on a place of worship, taking the lives of 51 innocent people, devastating our Muslim community and challenging our sense of who we are as a country.”  New Zealanders united in solidarity.  Within 10 days of the attacks, the country banned semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles.  A second package of reforms, to register weapons and change licensing, is being considered, she said.

To truly feel safe, however, means living free from racism, bullying, and discrimination; feeling loved, included and able to be exactly who you are, she said.  These conditions must be universal to be effective, because bigoted words and actions are not “neatly confined behind boundaries,” she said.  “They are felt globally.”  The alleged terrorist broadcast his crimes online, uploaded to YouTube as fast as once every second.  The instantaneous worldwide circulation of the video of the attacks demonstrates the need for global problem-solving, she said.  Two months after the attack, leaders gathered in Paris for the Christchurch Call, bringing together companies, countries and civil society, and committing to a range of actions to reduce the harm such content can cause.  “In doing so we have kept our focus on the deeper aim we all want:  technology that unleashes human potential, not the worst in us,” she said.

Climate change illustrates the same degree of international interdependence, she said, noting that 7 of the 15 most climate-affected nations in the world are in the Pacific region.  That’s why New Zealand is transforming its economy in a greener direction.  Since taking office two years ago, her Administration has produced zero carbon legislation; created a $100 million green investment fund; stopped issuing new offshore oil and gas exploration permits; and is working with its Pacific neighbours to increase solar power and reduce the use of diesel generators.

In addition, New Zealand is supporting a global end to fossil fuel subsidies, she said.  This week, the country will, with like-minded States, announce a new initiative that applies trade levers to climate-related goods, services and technologies.  Trade deals must support climate action instead of allowing perverse subsidies that incentivise pollution, and finally remove tariffs on green technology.  Without subsidies, fossil fuels will face strong competition from green energy, she said.

SHINZO ABE, Prime Minister of Japan, underscoring that reform of the United Nations, especially the Security Council, is absolutely imperative, called for Member States’ support for his country’s election to that organ as a non-permanent member.  In October, a new emperor will accede to the imperial throne, an opportunity for Japan to redefine its role in the world and leave behind a long-standing economic slump.  As well, some landmark events will be taking place in Japan, including the Olympic and Paralympic Games; the 2025 World Expo; and the United Nations “Crime Congress”.

He recalled the recent visit to Tokyo by the activist Malala Yousafzai who explained that as many as 100 million women do not receive education beyond the age of 12 and that if they did, they could add up to $30 trillion to the global economy.  The labour participation of women in his country has improved the national economy and he pledged to promote inclusive quality education for girls and women.  In addition, Japan has, through its international cooperation agency, shared educational materials aimed at preventing teenage pregnancy with school girls.

In Arusha, close to Mount Kilimanjaro, thanks to the efforts of a group of Japanese people an all-girls junior high-school was opened, he continued.  In Cambodia a Japanese entrepreneur has also started an initiative to educate young women and girls, focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  Japan aims to provide enriched education for at least 9 million children and young people in sub-Saharan and Asian nations, such as Rwanda and Sri Lanka.

He also voiced support in regard to the approach taken by President Donald Trump of the United States with Chairman Kim Jong-un of the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea, an approach where the two leaders could talk candidly with each other.  He, too, was determined to meet Chairman Kim Jong-un in a face-to-face encounter without any preconditions, he added.  The goal is to normalize relations with this country and resolve issues like abductions, nuclear energy and weapons and missile issues as well as settling the past among the two countries.   

Noting his concern for the recent attacks against oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, he hailed the pronouncement made personally to him by Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran, to not possess, produce or use nuclear weapons.  He emphasized efforts by his country to reach agreement in the negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and the Japan-European Union Economic Partnership Agreement and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.  “The world will become more connected, leading more people to escape from poverty”, he said, recalling that Japan has chaired Group of Seven and Group of 20 summits as well as the Tokyo International Conference on African Development, which aims for investment and growth in the African continent.

BORIS JOHNSON, Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury and Minister for the Civil Service of the United Kingdom, stated “no one can ignore the gathering force affecting every Member of this Assembly” that is digitalization.  Addressing the future of privacy, he said that in the emerging future people may keep their personal secrets from friends, family, their doctors or others, “but it is difficult to conceal them from Google”.

Citing the comprehensive and pervasive effects of this technology, pushing humanity towards “an urban environment as antiseptic as a Zurich pharmacy”, he said in the future and even the present, it places every citizen under surveillance.  A “future Alexa” of connectivity will monitor every aspect of daily human life.  With a cloud of data lowering ever more oppressively over the human race, he said people may have no control “over how or when the precipitation will take place”.  He described data as the crude oil of the present day, with no one knowing who owns or can use it.

Expressing concern about whether the machines will decide if people are eligible for a mortgage or insurance, he wondered:  “How do you plead with an algorithm?”  Digital authoritarianism is already a reality in some countries.  While the United Kingdom is a global leader in technology, he noted that some States have been caught unaware by the effects of the Internet, the most momentous invention since print.  Like nuclear power, it is capable of both great good and harm, but he wondered whether artificial intelligence will be a boon for humanity or produce “pink-eyed terminators” here to “cull the human race”.  He cited the deep human impulse to mistrust any technological innovation, noting the influence of anti-vaxxers.

However, he pivoted to express a total rejection of any anti-science pessimism.  Highlighting the rise of nanotechnology and neural interface technology, he cited breakthrough developments “helping the deaf to hear and the blind to see”.  In the developing world, he noted that millions of people in Africa without bank accounts can now use an app to fill that gap.  The values that inform tech design will shape the future of humanity, which will either face an Orwellian world of suppression or one of learning, threatening famine and disease but not freedoms.

The mission of the United Kingdom and all who share its values is to ensure that emerging technologies must promote that freedom, openness and pluralism, he said.  On that point, he called on the United Nations to guarantee that no one is left behind, calling for a common set of global principles to shape the norms and standards of emerging technologies.  The United Kingdom has by far the biggest tech sector anywhere in Europe, with half a million people working in it, he said, and invited Member States to attend a technology summit in London in 2020.

M. SAAD-EDDINE EL OTHMANI, Prime Minister of Morocco, highlighted his country’s role as a place for meeting and cooperation between Europe, Africa and the rest of the world.  Morocco’s stability and security in a volatile region is a result of his country’s promotion of democratic values and economic openness.  In an international arena where States with various interests and different strategies take immediate action “rather than thinking”, he said that multilateral action is the most effective way to respond to new challenges such as climate change, achieving sustainable development, addressing flows of migration and combating terrorism and violent extremism.

He added that the multilateral action the international community aspires to should guarantee Africa the place it deserves on the international stage, and that the Organization should direct all necessary attention to Africa’s renaissance and ambition.  As the second-largest investor in Africa, Morocco aims to promote the transfer of technology and to establish a free trade centre on the continent to create new horizons for the African economy.

Turning to the issue of migration, he pointed out that no country can face the challenges it entails alone and highlighted Morocco’s role in the adoption of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.  Stating that the agreement represents a joint vision in which each party has its interests represented without stigma, he urged the international community to work together to implement the accord.  He also committed to addressing climate change and sustainable development through South-South cooperation and at the national level, pointing to Morocco’s efforts to promote a better economic system and reduce social inequality.

He stated his country’s preoccupation with the lack of a promising avenue for peace between Israel and Palestine, citing this situation as a source of instability and tension in the Middle East.  Morocco stands with the Palestinian people, and he rejected Israel’s settlement policy and any changes to the nature or status of Jerusalem.  Sustainable peace requires that Palestinians are able to enjoy rights to an independent State with its capital in East Jerusalem.

He also called on the international community to find a genuine solution to regional disagreements on the “Moroccan Sahara”, stressing that this issue is one of national unity, territorial integrity and sovereignty.  Every country has a right and duty to protect its citizens and territory, he said, and therefore Morocco seeks a practical and sustainable political solution for this regional conflict.  Drawing attention to the “lamentable situation” of the inhabitants of the Tindouf refugee camps, he encouraged the host country to fulfil its legal and humanitarian responsibilities to conduct a census and register the people inside the camp.

For information media. Not an official record.