Terrorism, Climate Change, Situation in Middle East also Featured Prominently
The adverse impacts of decades-old protracted conflicts — including on human rights, sustainable growth and social cohesion — took centre stage today, as world leaders continued to address the General Assembly’s annual high-level debate.
Many speakers underlined the 193-member Assembly’s mandate to serve as a platform for peaceful dialogue and urged conflict parties around the globe to adhere strictly to international law. Several Heads of State and Government as well as ministers drew attention to escalating tensions in the Strait of Hormuz and recent attacks against Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities — pointing out that they risk deepening an already fraught situation across the Middle East — while also voicing grave concern that the entrenched conflict in the Occupied Palestinian Territory remains unresolved.
Rumen Radev, President of Bulgaria, voiced regret that, over the past year, the international community has been unable to reach a breakthrough on any major conflict. The proclaimed victory over the so-called “caliphate” of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) in 2018 was not enough to bring the war‑torn Middle East closer to peace.
Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine, outlined recent developments in a conflict that featured in many of today’s 37 interventions. Recalling that Israel’s Prime Minister recently announced his intention to annex parts of the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea, he said Palestine’s response — should the annexation proceed — will be to terminate all signed agreements with the Government of the occupation. “It is time for the international community to uphold its responsibilities and bring an end to this Israeli aggression and arrogance,” he stressed, telling the Assembly: “The responsibility for defending and preserving international law and peace is incumbent upon you.”
Israel Katz, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Israel, called on the Palestinian Authority to “stop encouraging and financing terrorism” and return to direct negotiations without preconditions. The terrorist organization Hamas is holding two Israeli citizens and the bodies of two of his country’s soldiers, he said, calling on the United Nations to implement the decision to halt aid to Gaza until those matters are resolved. The biggest threat to the region, however, is Iran, he said, calling that country “the biggest sponsor of terror in the world”. He denounced its attacks on Saudi oil facilities and urged Member States to declare Hizbullah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard terror organizations.
Saudi Arabia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ibrahim bin Abdulaziz Al-Assaf, said that the 14 September attacks on his country’s oil refinery violated the principles of the United Nations, threatened regional stability, and exposed the Iranian regime before the entire world. “We are dealing with a rogue and terrorist system,” he said. Appeasing Iran through partial agreements has only increased its terrorist and aggressive activities. By cutting off the sources of Iran’s finance, the international community can compel it to renounce its militias, prevent it from developing ballistic missiles and end its destabilizing activities.
Aleksandar Vučić, President of Serbia, turning to the protracted dispute over Kosovo and Metohija, emphasized Belgrade’s willingness to engage in dialogue and warned against unilateral actions, such as Pristina’s 2008 independence declaration and its more recent imposition of custom tariffs on his country’s imports. Pledging to advocate for the rights, sovereignty and independence of small nations, he said Serbia will always pursue a policy of peace and dialogue but will not shy away from building relationships with such global Powers as China, the Russian Federation, and, increasingly, the United States.
The Republic of Moldova’s President, Igor Dodon, also referred to the Balkan States, declaring: “The confrontation between major geopolitical players for a better positioning in our region has never ceased.” Describing many efforts to lure his country into alliances with either the Russian Federation or the West, for which it has paid a high price, he requested full respect for its neutral status. He also welcomed Moscow’s recent steps — the first since 2003 — towards reaching a geopolitical consensus on settling the Transnistrian region dispute. “We will be friends and will interact with all our partners,” he stressed, eschewing an “either‑or” policy, on the one hand, and isolationism, on the other.
Among speakers who cautioned against straying from the critical principles enshrined in international law was Nicos Anastasiades, President of Cyprus, who said his country has worked for decades to end an unacceptable status quo resulting from Turkey’s illegal 1974 invasion and the consequent military occupation of more than one third of Cyprus. Citing a new glimmer of hope on that issue — namely, the Secretary-General’s newly proposed peace talks — he said those steps could lead to a bi-zonal, bi-communal Cyprus with political equality, a single sovereignty and a single legal citizenship. However, Turkey’s continued blackmail, “gun-boat diplomacy” and attempts to force negotiations under duress pose major obstacles, he said.
Felix Antoine Tshilombo Tshisekedi, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, spoke through the lens of a nation that has hosted a United Nations peacekeeping force for nearly a quarter of a century. He described ongoing clashes between Government and rebel forces, as well as a long history of wars “that came from the outside”, and their negative impacts on the country’s development. Citing recent positive developments — including successful democratic elections in late 2018 — he said his country’s people are ready to take part in combating crucial global challenges, such as climate change. “The average age of our population is 17.5 years; barely older than [climate activist] Greta Thunberg, and they share her concerns,” he said. “But how can they prepare for the same fight when they have neither water nor light?”
Charles Angelo Savarin, President of Dominica, said that two years since his country lay in ruins after being ravaged by Hurricane Maria, the Government has made substantial progress rebuilding thousands of homes and restoring utilities. “Building resilience is an expensive task”, he added, stressing that “the climate is at war with Member States” and urging countries to “not aggravate the situation by creating hostility and war among ourselves”.
Also speaking today were Heads of State and Government as well as ministers of Tonga, Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Somalia, El Salvador, Suriname, Belgium, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Sao Tome and Principe, Comoros, Nauru, Federated States of Micronesia, Malawi, Djibouti, South Sudan, Gambia, North Macedonia, Hungary, Austria, Belarus, Denmark, Malta, Cameroon, Dominican Republic and Gabon, as well as the President of the European Community of the European Union.
Exercising the right of reply were the representatives of Azerbaijan and Armenia.
The General Assembly will reconvene at 9 a.m. on Friday, 27 September, to continue its general debate.
TUPOU VI, King of Tonga, commended the priorities of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, highlighting conflict prevention, inclusion, human rights and tackling climate change. He noted that Tonga is committed to implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (Samoa) Pathway, through the Tonga Strategic Development Framework, and expressed gratitude for the aid provided by the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, among others.
Moving on to climate change, he said Tonga and its neighbours are committed to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change despite contributing scarcely more than 1 per cent to global warming. Securing climate finance is Tonga’s main priority, he said, commending the United Kingdom’s move to double its contribution to the Green Climate Fund. Pacific leaders in Tuvalu have recently declared a “climate change crisis” in the Pacific region, and called for urgent action in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions to prevent catastrophic global warming. Extreme events like cyclones, flooding, droughts and king tides are inflicting damage to our communities and ecosystems. “Climate change is not only a political issue for us, but also one of survival,” he stressed.
Spotlighting the devastating impact of climate change on the marine environment, he looked forward to deliberations upcoming at the twenty‑fifth Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Chile this year. The important issues of baselines that determine maritime boundaries, established under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, should not be affected despite the effects of sea level rise. “Our sovereignty should not be compromised by the effects of climate change”, he added.
Regarding biological diversity in areas beyond national borders, he noted Tonga’s engagement in this year’s second and third intergovernmental conferences, as well as the International Seabed Authority, with which it is working on important draft regulations that will maintain an appropriate balance between conservation and the sustainable use of deep‑sea minerals. Tonga hosted the first International Seabed Authority regional workshop for the Pacific this year, and looks forward to continuing such work in the Cook Islands ahead of the second United Nations Oceans Conference next year. Tonga is working towards achieving 50 per cent renewable energy by 2020, with the help of public and private financing, he added.
Sustainable development can only be achieved with international peace and security, he declared, and called upon the Security Council to protect the innocent from threats to international peace and security, from “traditional threats such as armed conflict or newer threats like climate change and sea level rise and health epidemics, to ensure no one is left behind.”
NICOS ANASTASIADES, President of Cyprus, said people have placed their hopes in the international community and do not wish to be “recipients of verbal support or wishful thinking that expire by the end of the General Assembly”. The global failure to address poverty, lack of educational opportunity, social exclusion and the impact of climate change has, in turn, aggravated violent extremism, sectarianism, the destruction of cultural heritage, civil war and the forced displacement of millions. He praised the United Nations as “the only international forum in which nations can collectively interact, deliberate and pursue common goals”.
Turning to the mass mobilization of young people at the Climate Action Summit and quoting young activist Greta Thunberg in stressing that “the eyes of all future generations are upon you”, he said Cyprus is bringing together regional scientists and policymakers to develop practical solutions. Regionally, Cyprus is at the forefront of efforts to establish conditions for peace through a doctrine of “multilateralism and positive agendas”. For the past 45 years, Cyprus has worked to end the unacceptable status quo stemming from Turkey’s illegal invasion in 1974, the consequent military occupation of more than one third of the island and the forcible displacement of 40 per cent of its population.
He recalled the understanding reached between the leaders of the two communities that the terms of reference for negotiations should include the 11 February 2014 Joint Declaration and the six‑point framework, presented on 30 June 2017 at Crans‑Montana. Resumed talks would aim solely at reaching a settlement on the basis of “a historic compromise by our side: the evolution of the Republic of Cyprus into a bi‑zonal, bi‑communal federation with political equality”, in line with Security Council resolutions, and with a single sovereignty, single international legal personality and single citizenship.
He expressed hope for a solution that will establish a viable, functional and lasting federal State, free from foreign dependencies, foreign troops and rights of intervention by third countries. “The United Nations and the Secretary‑General’s good offices mission is the only way for us”, he declared. Denouncing Turkey’s recent actions that contravene international law and undermine a positive environment for negotiations, he likewise rejected “gun‑boat diplomacy, blackmail” or attempts to impose negotiations under duress. Further, he questioned whether the Secretary‑General’s efforts would succeed while Turkey violates the sovereign rights of Cyprus in its internationally recognized exclusive economic zone, and threatens severe consequences should Cyprus proceed with its energy program. He rejected plans for Turkish settlements in the area of Varosha, which is under illegal Turkish military occupation and has a distinct status recognized in all Secretary‑General reports. The framework for its resettlement by its lawful inhabitants under United Nations auspices was set as a priority in 1979, he clarified.
He hailed the presence of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP)as “more necessary than ever”, due to Turkey’s increasing aggressive military positioning. He rejected remarks by that country’s Prime Minister describing Greek Cypriots as uncompromising and ill‑intentioned, questioning whether it is “uncompromising” to aspire to an independent State free from occupation. To the contrary, Greek Cypriots have accepted political equality as defined by the Secretary‑General and upheld in Security Council resolutions. Both communities reached agreement on the issue of natural resources in line with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Cyprus has agreed to deposit revenues from hydrocarbon exploitation into an escrow account for the Turkish Cypriot community and he denounced Turkey’s unilateral and unlawful drilling in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone under the threat of force.
ALEKSANDAR VUČIĆ, President of Serbia, said each year United Nations Member States gather together in the Assembly Hall like children to hear “what the great Powers think of us, and are relieved when we are not mentioned.” Hailing from a small country — which suffered the brunt of the First World War and genocide in the Second — he said what the Serbian people want more than anything today is peace and the ability to prosper. In that context, he pledged to continue advocating for the rights, sovereignty and independence of small nations. Emphasizing that Serbia is stronger when its neighbours are also stronger, he said it will always advocate for a policy of peace and consultation, without which no economic progress is possible.
Recalling that Serbia was on the brink of bankruptcy in 2014, he outlined major strides in the last five years, noting that employment figures are now on the rise, the credit rating is positive, and the economy is estimated to grow by 4 per cent in the coming years — more than any other country in the region. However, he said, many people in the Balkan region still do not live well. To advance, Serbia has chosen the path of independent foreign policy and decision‑making and does not hide from pursuing strong relationships with major Powers including China, the Russian Federation and increasingly with the United States.
Turning to the issue of Kosovo and Metohija, which continues to impede Serbia’s progress, he described his country’s longstanding willingness to engage in dialogue towards a peaceful resolution and expressed its expectations that such efforts will receive support from the world’s large Powers. Belgrade does not recognize Kosovo’s unilaterally‑declared independence, he said, noting that the territory remains part of Serbia. Since Kosovo’s imposition of custom tariffs on Serbian imports in 2018, his country has lost some €350 million.
Against that backdrop, he said, the presence of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) remains crucial for Serbs living in Kosovo and Metohija. Serbia has always been a cultural crossroads, and recently completed new stretches of railway and highways across the region, including between Belgrade and Sarajevo. Rather than doing it alone, Serbia engages with leaders across the region, including by agreeing to new economic partnerships with Albania and North Macedonia. “The Balkans should belong to the Balkan nations,” he said, vowing to fight at the United Nations for the right of all countries to act with sovereignty and independence. Warning against the temptation to divide the world into “good and bad”, he instead advocated dialogue and the pursuit of friendships in line with international law.
RUMEN RADEV, President of Bulgaria, welcomed the launch of a timely initiative by France and Germany, known as the “Alliance for Multilateralism” — a network of like‑minded nations working to foster effective multilateral approaches to global issues with the United Nations at its centre. Describing this week’s High‑Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development as a pivotal event, he underscored the pressing need to accelerate implementation of the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The human race is facing the detrimental consequences of dramatically overused natural resources and massive urbanization, he said, citing such impacts as irreversible pollution, biodiversity loss and threats to fragile ecosystems.
Against that backdrop, he said Bulgaria stands behind its commitments under the Paris Agreement and has already reached its interim target of 18 per cent renewable energy sources. The country is also committed to empowering children with disabilities though inclusive education and working to achieve universal health coverage as a national priority. Welcoming recent United Nations reforms — as well as the Secretary‑General’s commitment to advancing diplomacy and strengthening the role of mediation in conflict prevention — he underscored that international terrorism and violent extremism continue to pose a significant threat to international peace and security.
He voiced regret that, over the past year, the international community has been unable to reach a breakthrough on any major conflict. The proclaimed victory over the so-called “caliphate” of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) in 2018 was not enough to bring the war‑torn Middle East closer to peace. Calling for vigilance against the threat of terrorism, he said finding a political solution to the eight‑year conflict in Syria is crucial for the region’s security and for the protection of civilians. Similarly, there can be no military solution to the crisis in Libya. Expressing support for re‑launched United Nations‑led negotiations in that country, which are of utmost importance for regional security and the management of migration flows in the Mediterranean Sea, he advocated for close cooperation between the European Union and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) aimed at increasing the number of voluntary returns.
Voicing Bulgaria’s support for all efforts to resume the Israeli‑Palestinian peace talks and for a two‑State solution as the only way to achieve peace, he said the conflict in Yemen also demonstrates that no comprehensive solution can be achieved by military means. Expressing support for Yemen’s 2018 Stockholm Agreement, he went on to voice concern that despite periodic ceasefires, the situation in eastern Ukraine remains highly precarious. He urged the parties to abide by the ceasefire agreement, withdraw all heavy weapons and grant unhindered access to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) special monitoring mission. He expressed concern about Iran’s decision to suspend the implementation of some of its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and the recent escalation of tensions in the Person Gulf, while also urging all countries to adhere to the global non‑proliferation regime with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons at its core.
JULIUS MAADA BIO, President of Sierra Leone, reiterated his country’s commitment to peacekeeping and the promotion of international peace and security, calling for reform of the Security Council to make it more broadly representative. Africa is the only region without permanent Council representation, and is under‑represented in the non‑permanent category. He demanded two permanent and two non‑permanent seats “as a matter of common justice and the right to have an equal say in decision making”, urging the Assembly to support the urgent call for Africa’s representation outlined in the Ezulwini Consensus and Sirte Declaration.
More broadly, he said Sierra Leone has pursued country‑led peace through national dialogue and reconciliation, having recently concluded the Bintumani III conference, where a nationally representative body resolved to establish a permanent and independent national commission for peace and cohesion. Poverty can only be overcome when a nation’s greatest resource — its people — is developed, as human capital is a critical enabler for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. As such, 21 per cent of the national budget is allocated to education, allowing Sierra Leone to offer free pre‑primary to secondary education, irrespective of gender, ability or ethnicity, and 2 million children to enroll in school. He also drew attention to expanded opportunities for girls by creating safe spaces in schools, campaigning vigorously against early marriage and sexual‑ and gender‑based violence.
Through partnerships and innovation, he said Sierra Leone has made great progress in establishing legal identity and birth registration, by strengthening its national civil registration and vital statistics system and launching Africa’s first block chain national digital identity platform, which will allow approved institutions to digitally verify the identities of citizens. To address anxiety over Africa’s growing youth population — a phenomenon complicated by growing poverty indicators, exclusion, perilous migration across the Mediterranean, transnational organized crime and terrorism — Sierra Leone has set up financial and social inclusion programmes, skills training and farming initiatives.
He said the Government is working towards women’s inclusion in governance and entrepreneurship, while its actions on child marriage, rape, and sexual‑ and gender‑based violence have been uncompromising. Progressive laws on sexual offences have been passed and a Presidential Task Force established. He also described investments in health care, commitment to reduce maternal and child mortality and prevent epidemics, among other priorities. Outlining Sierra Leone’s reforms to foster the rule of law and public accountability, he stressed the importance of fighting corruption. On climate action, he underscored Sierra Leone’s commitment to green and sustainable energy, reflected in its respect for the 2015 Paris Agreement.
FELIX ANTOINE TSHILOMBO TSHISEKEDI, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, called for holistic reform of the United Nations, especially the Security Council, and advocated support for the Ezulwini Consensus and the 2005 Sirte Declaration. Africa still lacks permanent Council representation. Underscoring the need to alleviate hunger, malnutrition and extreme poverty, which afflict 1 billion people worldwide, including 118 million Africans, he said that with its abundant fresh water and arable land, the Democratic Republic of the Congo could be part of the solution, and feed more than 2 billion people.
Outlining social priorities, he pointed to education, health care, and alleviating inequities, notably by ensuring free primary education, increasing spending on education from 8 per cent to almost 20 per cent of the State budget; aligning education with the labour market, in partnership with the private sector; working to provide 8 million Congolese health care access; and a new national digital plan. “We need to find ways to meet our ambitions” he said, describing a large-scale urban community development programme, aimed at addressing land and inequality challenges, which will help the Democratic Republic of the Congo catch up to global development goals. Socioeconomic development “will either be sustainable, or it will not happen at all”, he said.
The fate of rich and poor are more connected than ever, he said, and Africa is a fulcrum for global sustainable development. While the country possesses 47 per cent of Africa’s forests, the continent must find new sources of energy and means of production that are compatible with sustainability. The Democratic Republic of the Congo participates in the Central African Forest Initiative, he said, naming clean energy and fighting deforestation as priorities. Nonetheless, he called for balancing the protection of biodiversity and an effective strategy for its eco-friendly use, with a focus on creating jobs for young people. “The average age of our population is 17.5 years; barely older than [climate activist] Greta Thunberg, and they share her concerns,” he said. “But how can they prepare for the same fight when they have neither water nor light?” he asked.
Noting that the Democratic Republic of the Congo has hosted peacekeepers for 24 of 59 years of its independence, he said that despite their long presence, Congolese hopes for peace and development have been dashed. “What would have happened if [former Prime Minister] Patrice Lumumba had not been assassinated?” he asked, imagining what would have become of the country had it been allowed to “learn its way into democracy, rather than be diverted from wars that came from the outside”. With peace and security as the greatest challenges, he recalled his Government’s recent proposal to establish a regional coalition to fight insecurity emanating from armed groups — some of which pledge allegiance to ISIL/Da’esh.
On the Ebola epidemic, which he called “extremely serious”, he praised the work of Jean-Jacques Muyembe, whose team pioneered research and developed the most effective therapeutic molecule to treat the virus. He welcomed five new approved medications, along with the new vaccine, which he hoped would stamp out the virus. He also welcomed the Secretary-General’s proposal to render the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) more focused and better equipped, with a more robust mandate. The new African Continental Free Trade Area, meanwhile, should be implemented incrementally. His Government will accelerate infrastructure programmes aimed at connecting the country and facilitating the movement of goods and people, he said, recalling that the Democratic Republic of the Congo holds vast mineral resources, including cobalt and lithium, whose exploitation can bring jobs and development.
He assured that recent elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo were democratic, peaceful and signalled “a historic victory”, despite the pessimistic picture painted by some observers. He went on to deplore the deaths of migrants in the Mediterranean, as well as recent attacks on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia. Underscoring the need to “define a new world order in which Africa will play a rightful role”, he called for a complete lifting of sanctions which have affected Zimbabwe since 2002 and are “no longer justifiable”.
IGOR DODON, President of Moldova, avowing full support for all recent initiatives launched by the United Nations as the global platform for identifying common solutions to urgent challenges, reaffirmed support for preventive diplomacy. He also pledged continued promotion of accelerated achievement of the 2030 Agenda, based on respect for human rights. Affirming that women’s empowerment is critical in all such efforts, he said progress had resulted in women heading the Parliament and Government, and representing 65 per cent of Government officials, as well as 25 per cent of members of Parliament. This year has also been decreed Year of the Family.
Calling for greater efforts against climate change, he said that such a complex challenge can only be met through international efforts, with small countries requiring the help of partners. He noted dramatic economic changes in Moldova in the 28 years since independence, with indicators remaining below 1990 levels, accompanied by a 30 per cent decrease in births and more than half of workers employed abroad. However, enormous investments in human capital have not resulted in domestic benefit, with taxes being paid elsewhere. The causes of the situation are complex and include poor governance, endemic corruption and, recently, failures in economic or inter‑ethnic policies, he acknowledged.
However, he said, one factor must be highlighted in this forum: “The confrontation between major geopolitical players for a better positioning in our region has never ceased”. As a multi‑ethnic State in which the preferences of the population are almost equally divided between the Russian Federation and the West, there have been many efforts to lure it into alliances with one side or the other, for which Moldova has paid a high price, particularly when politicians and national elites have been involved. “First there was blood and disintegration following the armed conflict in the Transnistrian region of the country, then it was economic and social degradation already over several decades,” he remarked. For that reason, he requested the de facto observance of Moldova’s neutrality status enshrined in its constitution. “We do not want to be treated as neutral territory anymore; this is something different from a neutral State”. Attempts to question this status jeopardize any chance of settling the Transnistrian problem and enhancing regional security.
He welcomed the Russian Federation’s initiative to resume disposal of foreign ammunition stored in the Transnistrian region as an important step — the first since 2003 — towards reaching geopolitical consensus on settling the dispute, and reaffirmed confidence in the “5+2 negotiation format”. It is also important to identify possibilities for eventual support by foreign partners in the post‑settlement phase of the Transnistrian problem. He expressed hope in the June 2019 formation of a parliamentary coalition between two political forces with diametrically opposed geopolitical preferences, in an effort to solve Moldova’s pressing problems following the end of domination by oligarchs. This internal consensus is strengthened by the common position of the main development partners and world Powers, including the Russian Federation, United States and European Union.
“We will be friends and will interact with all our partners”, he stressed, eschewing an “either‑or” policy, on the one hand, and isolationism, on the other, following the model of countries such as Austria. The key to success in that direction is recognition of Moldova’s military neutrality, along with removal of all former Soviet munitions from the country, with “full and final” completion of the withdrawal of foreign troops. With a final political settlement of the Transnistrian conflict, there will be no need of a peacekeeping mission on Moldovan territory. In conclusion, he emphasized the imperative of solidary among nations in the face of modern challenges.
DANIEL KABLAN DUNCAN, Vice-President of Côte d’Ivoire, expressed concern over the tendency towards unilateralism, saying that multilateralism is the best tool to fight today’s challenges. Calling for more decisive action to tackle global hunger and malnutrition, climate change, migration crises and all forms of inclusion, he said Côte d’Ivoire has included the Sustainable Development Goals in its national development plan and increased spending on the poor from $1.7 billion in 2011 to $5 billion in 2019.
He also pointed to plans for universal medical coverage and creation of a productive social safety net system which will allow 125,000 households to receive regular income from 2015 to 2024. Poverty has declined thanks to improvements in electricity, nutrition, drinking water and sanitation. Underscoring the importance of education, he said Côte d’Ivoire has introduced free public primary education and compulsory schooling across its territory for children aged 6 to 16. Its strategic literacy plan aims at reducing illiteracy rates. African countries can only fight inequalities, particularly gender inequalities, he stressed, if they have well-trained and well-nourished men and women. As such, he called for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to play a stronger role in educational systems.
The effects of global warming are increasingly noticeable across all regions, he said, particularly in developing countries such as Côte d’Ivoire. Climate change has led to drought, deforestation, natural disasters and displacement, threatening entire ecosystems and degrading soils. Stressing the need to promote the green economy, clean technology and productive resource use, he reiterated his country’s commitment to the 2015 Paris Agreement. Côte d’Ivoire has committed to reducing emissions 28 per cent by 2030, focusing on the transition to renewable energy, developing a circular economy and ensuring sustainable forest management, he said, adding that the aim is to achieve 20 per cent national forest coverage by 2030.
Underscoring that the threat of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction undermine national development, he said there can be no security and sustainable development without peace. Terrorist groups across Africa continue to cause significant loss of human life, destroy infrastructure and weaken peace and stability, he said, noting that no lasting solution to these challenges can be found without a global approach in a multilateral framework.
MAHMOUD ABBAS, President of the State of Palestine, recalled that Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, recently announced his intention to annex and apply Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea should he prevail in elections. Rejecting that plan as illegal, he said Palestine’s response — should the annexation proceed — will be to terminate all signed agreements with the Government of the occupation. “It is time for the international community to uphold its responsibilities and bring an end to this Israeli aggression and arrogance,” he stressed, recalling that the Assembly granted observer status to the State of Palestine in 2012. He expressed gratitude for that legal and moral stance, as well as to all those nations that provide support to the Palestinian people, including through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
In that vein, he recalled that despite the obstacles and policies imposed by Israel’s occupation and those behind it, Palestine has become a full member and State party to more than 110 international instruments and organizations. It has received recognition from 140 States and currently chairs the “Group of 77” developing countries and China at the United Nations. As such, it deserves to become a full member of the United Nations and all its bodies and agencies. While Palestine has long accepted the legitimacy of international law, those laws are now severely endangered as a result of Israel’s policies and practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. “The responsibility for defending and preserving international law and peace is incumbent upon you,” he told the Assembly.
In East Jerusalem, he said the occupying Power is waging a reckless, racist war “against everything that is Palestinian”: confiscating homes, carrying out assaults on the clergy, enacting racist laws and denying worshipers access to holy places. Warning that such actions will lead to dangerous consequences with unfathomable implications, he urged the international community to reject Israel’s arbitrary decisions, especially the withholding and confiscation of Palestinian tax revenue. Emphasizing that the Palestinian people will not surrender to Israel’s occupation “no matter the pain” imposed against them, he described recent moves by the United States as both unfortunate and shocking. Among those, it declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel and moved its Embassy there — a blatant provocation to the sensitivities of hundreds of millions of Muslims and Christians — and immorally and inhumanely terminated all its contributions to UNRWA.
Warning that such policies have emboldened Israel to renege on all signed agreements, depriving the peace process of any credibility, he said Palestine has never missed an opportunity to hold serious negotiations with the Israeli side. However, it has regrettably not found an Israeli partner for those efforts. Calling for the holding of an international peace conference, in line with the initiative presented to the Security Council in 2018, he stressed that Palestine’s democratic process was paralyzed by a 2007 coup by Hamas, leading to an unbearable situation. He declared his intention to announce a date for the holding of general elections in Palestine — including the West Bank and Gaza — upon his return from New York and urged the United Nations to monitor them. He further renounced all acts of terrorism, especially those committed recently against Saudi Arabia and other Arab States.
SAHLE‑WORK ZEWDE, President of Ethiopia, said that since her country’s political transition in April 2018, it has launched major political, legal and economic reforms. It has widened the political space, releasing jailed political prisoners and journalists, inviting exiled political parties to return home and ending a 20‑year conflict with Eritrea. With elections in 2020, these reforms have built a solid foundation for a lasting democratic order. The rapprochement with Eritrea was a clear demonstration of the capacity of Africans to solve their problems through constructive dialogue, she said.
In Sudan, she called the formation of a Government of National Unity an encouraging development, with negotiating parties showing faith in the mediation efforts of Ethiopia and the African Union. The new leadership deserves the full backing of the international community in efforts to revive Sudan’s economy. She noted her strong support for the lifting of all economic and financial sanctions on Sudan, and its removal from the list of countries sponsoring terrorism.
She underscored that Somalia has come a long way in recent years, now consolidating State institutions, with elections scheduled for 2020. At the same time, Al‑Shabaab remains a serious danger to Somalia and the wider region. Any reversal of the progress made, with enormous sacrifices from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the Somali National Security Forces, must be prevented. In this regard, sustainable financing and support for AMISOM remains critical.
Domestically, Ethiopia has started to register encouraging initial results on the 2030 Agenda, she said. It is investing in its people to improve their wellbeing. It is expanding manufacturing and infrastructure to attract domestic and foreign investment. To create jobs for its youth, Ethiopia is privatizing State‑owned enterprises, and to finance national projects, it is mobilizing domestic resources. To reduce poverty, it is sustaining rapid and inclusive economic growth. Ethiopia is also mainstreaming the SDGs into an upcoming five‑year national development plan, as well as a plan for the next decade.
Indeed, Ethiopia’s main aspiration is to move its people out of poverty, she said, striving to provide a dignified life for all its citizens. The central element of its sustainable development vision is to build infrastructure and harness natural resources. The grim reality today is that nearly 65 million Ethiopians lack access to electricity. The construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile is merely to generate enough hydro‑electric power so that Ethiopians can eat supper with the lights on.
DONALD TUSK, President of the European Council of the European Union, disagreed with remarks heard two days ago suggesting there is a conflict between patriotism and globalism, calling it false and dangerous, “even if it has many followers”. The very idea of the United Nations is a heroic attempt to overcome such thinking. Patriotism in the twenty‑first century must have a global dimension. History demonstrates how easy it is to transform the love of homeland into a hatred of neighbours, or cultural pride into hatred of different cultures. The term ‘globalism’ does not sound attractive; he expressed a preference for the word ‘solidarity’. Yet for him, the two words mean the same thing: he described the love he has for his own country — Poland — and for Europe. However, even for those living in the most modern European city, life can “change into hell” if solutions to global threats are not found at the United Nations.
He went on to describe the unfolding environmental emergency, characterized by microplastics floating in the ocean and species becoming extinct every day. The world is fast approaching a time when countries will only be able to mitigate the effects of climate change rather than reverse them. For its part, the European Union will do its utmost to fight that threat, he said, noting that in 2017 alone, it spent €20 billion helping developing countries tackle and adapt to climate change repercussions. The natural environment is comprised not only of the ocean, the Earth and the forests; it also encompasses freedom, the rule of law and international solidarity. To protect truth, it is not enough to accuse others of promoting fake news. It is essential to “simply stop lying”, he said, pointing out that many politicians use lies as a means of protecting power.
MOHAMED ABDULLAHI MOHAMED, President of Somalia, hailed partnerships of any kind to overcome contemporary challenges, stressing that no country — no matter how wealthy, strong or prepared — can tackle them alone. Common action and coordinated multilateral responses are needed. He thanked the international community for its constructive role in Somalia’s “successful journey to full recovery from a very difficult past”, and the United Nations for its role on the ground, describing Somalia as a great example of “the importance and success of the international multilateral system”.
He said Somalia is fostering development in the Horn of Africa, a region with potentially unrivalled opportunity if the ties among countries — and with global partners — are further strengthened. Explaining the dispute between Somalia and Kenya over maritime borders, he said Somalia is ready to accept final judgement from the International Court of Justice on the boundary delimitation. “The Court’s judgement will be binding, we will trust it, a lasting settlement will be achieved”, he assured, underscoring Somalia’s commitment to maintaining good relations with Kenya. As for Somalia’s internal political process, he reported successful regional elections in the build up to national parliamentary and Presidential elections in 2021, citing an inclusive electoral bill, voter registration and better public awareness on the importance of inclusive politics as successes.
He went on to stress that Somalia is working tirelessly, alongside international partners, to rid itself of violent extremism and terrorist activities perpetuated by Al-Shabab, which uses “cowardly and opportunistic guerrilla tactics”. The Government’s holistic strategy to defeat that group relies on de-radicalization, successful military offensives to recover territory and the strengthening of the National Army. He expressed confidence that joint efforts with the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) will bear fruit and eventually allow for a well-trained armed force to assume responsibility for securing the country.
He described an enormous expansion in education, the design and delivery of which is a critical priority in efforts to “leapfrog” and compete on the global stage. Ambitious reform plans seek to expand enrolment, access to all ages and economic levels, and develop a relevant national curriculum. To tackle climate change, Somalia established a Directorate of Environment and Climate Change to grapple with rising sea levels and temperatures along its coastline — Africa’s longest — as well as degraded lands and deforestation. The 2017 drought created losses and damages amounting to $600 million. He called for full enforcement of Security Council resolution 751 (1992) requiring all Member States to take all measures to prevent the direct and indirect import and export of charcoal from Somalia — not simply for environmental reasons but to cut a source of financing for terrorists.
To end poverty, Somalia aims to create economic opportunities and is engaged in fiscal and economic reforms guided by the International Monetary Fund. It seeks to achieve debt cancellation by early 2020 through the Highly Indebted Poor Countries Initiative. Domestic revenue has been raised and national budgeting processes improved, with a financial system that is more secure and transparent. He expressed hope that Somalia can access resources to cover the costs of ending poverty, he said, pointing to its zero-tolerance approach to corruption and “historic” signing of the anticorruption bill.
NAYIB ARMANDO BUKELE, President of El Salvador, taking a “selfie” photograph of his appearance, said that the world is changing but the General Assembly continues its “same old obsolete format”, to which few pay attention. Video-conferencing would save time and allow more opportunities for actually solving problems. If the Internet and other new communications technologies are not used, the Assembly will continue to lose relevance. El Salvador has decided to “do things differently and the world should learn from it, he said, stressing that all speeches made in the Assembly this week will have less impact than a celebrated “You Tuber”. The Assembly must use new formats that seek mass participation from citizens around the world, taking cues from young people, to address global poverty, climate change, water, energy and a myriad of other issues. Prizes could be issued for the best solutions contributed through such outreach, he suggested.
He recounted that he had campaigned for President through new media and his Government communicates through it. Describing a viral video that recently drew attention to the needs of a village in El Salvador , he said everyone can now have a voice through their smart phones. Villagers can be transformed into citizens of the world and help bring about a new democratic revolution. He called on the Assembly to make changes that would allow this to happen and better empower itself to deal with the overwhelming problems of the modern era.
MICHAEL ASHWIN ADHIN, Vice President of Suriname, underscored his country’s commitment to preserving 93 per cent of its forest cover. Recognized as the most carbon‑negative country with a unique biodiversity, Suriname was the first to reserve 11 per cent of its land mass — 1.6 million hectares — for scientific and conservation purposes, as a gift to humanity. This fact reflects its deep concern about the effects of climate change, in contrast to those making empty speeches and promises. Further, Suriname hosted the first high‑level meeting for high‑forest‑cover low‑deforestation countries in February 2019, he said, stressing that these developing countries have received less than $2 billion in climate finance since 2007 — less than 14 per cent of all climate funds committed. The conference outcome — “Krutu of Paramaribo Joint Declaration on Climate Finance Mobilization” — represents the collective interest of the 27 participating countries.
Regionally, Suriname has always contributed to maintaining the Caribbean and South American region as a zone of peace, he said, advocating respect for the principles of non‑intervention and non‑interference in internal State affairs. He welcomed the Leticia Pact as a call to preserve the region in the wake of recent fires in the Amazon. Turning to Cuba, he opposed the blacklisting, arbitrary seizure of funds and an embargo against that country, and more broadly, recalled Suriname’s co‑chairing of a partnership between the European Union and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), which led to the adoption of guidelines to combat illicit drug trafficking and drug‑related transnational crime.
Suriname takes an intergenerational approach towards opportunities for young people to participate in decision‑making, notably related to sustainable development. Turning to home‑grown reform programs, he recalled the 2010 Social Contract introduced by the President covering universal health care, general pension, minimum hourly wage, access to affordable housing and education. In record time, the economy registered positive growth in 2017 and 2018, he said, rejecting Suriname’s unrealistic classification as a middle‑income country, based exclusively on per‑capita gross domestic product (GDP) rather than criteria that reflects its vulnerabilities.
CHARLES MICHEL, Prime Minister of Belgium, said progress resides in multilateralism. Patriotism does not come from division; it comes from cooperating with others. This is particularly true when facing climate change, sustainable development, and peace and security. Noting that an overwhelming majority of European States have pledged to work towards carbon neutrality by 2050, he welcomed Chile’s recent initiative in this regard, in line with the Paris Agreement. Climate change is accelerating, as is its impact on food, migration and even stability, but “we should not flounder in the trap of catastrophic thinking,” he said. “Transition to carbon neutrality will generate opportunities for development and better living standards.”
While progress has been made in fighting extreme poverty and infant mortality, tremendous work lies ahead in tackling access to education, water, and child malnutrition. Belgium pledges to work determinately in that regard, he said, stressing that technological innovation must be accelerated. Greater regulations are also needed to uphold democratic values and guard against “any and all arbitrary intrusions in our freedom of conscience and expression”. Gender equality is vitally important for achieving development, he said, stressing that “feminism is also a concern of men” and underscoring the need to combat “devastatingly toxic hate speech”.
Noting that Belgium is a non-permanent Security Council member, he emphasized the importance of protecting civilians and called for more specific mandates. Simmering tensions and root causes should be addressed by mediation and dialogue. Turning to the Gulf, he said that if tensions are left to rise, devastating consequences will result regionally and globally. Negotiations must continue. Observing that “divergence of views on the Iranian nuclear core are the crux of current tensions”, he said Belgium fully supports the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and mediation efforts spearheaded by France.
On Syria, he recalled the Security Council’s efforts to bring humanitarian relief, which again faced a double veto. While the Constitutional Committee is a step in the right direction, only a political process under the United Nations aegis will end the carnage. On the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the ground situation is “crumbling” amid persistent violence, mistrust and settlement activity. The parties must be encouraged to resume the peace process under international law. On the Democratic Republic of the Congo, “Belgium’s leading development partner,” he welcomed initial gestures of openness signalled by the release of political prisoners and expressed hope that the country can meet its people’s legitimate aspirations. In the Sahel, deteriorating security conditions are fuelling militias and being exploited by terrorist groups.
The spread of violence is overwhelming the humanitarian system, he said, encouraging States to step up their financial commitment to address it. Noting that the collapse of “the so-called caliphate” in Iraq and Syria does not spell the end of its deadly criminal ideology, he expressed concern about the ongoing radicalization of vulnerable people by ISIL/Da’esh. “My country like others was directly afflicted by the scourge of terrorism,” he stressed. More cooperation is needed to fight extremism, he said. Ending the climate threat and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals require “upholding the humanity that exists in each of us; in our souls and in our hearts”.
XAVIER BETTEL, Prime Minister of Luxembourg, welcomed efforts by States to address the critical challenge posed by climate change. Describing the mobilization of young people as remarkable, he said world leaders must also address the phenomenon. Only by halving emissions levels by 2030 will the world remain on track to curbing temperature rise. Also calling for a significant increase in energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy, he said Luxembourg aims to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 at the latest. “Young people are the harbingers of change,” he stressed, urging Member States to embrace their views.
Outlining a flagship climate measure, he said Luxembourg plans to make public transport free of charge beginning in 2020, and will double its support for similar initiatives around the world to €200 million between 2021 and 2025. The new Luxembourg Green Exchange platform meanwhile is dedicated exclusively to trading “environmentally friendly shares” and incentivizing green investments. Luxemburg will continue to allocate 1 per cent of its gross national income to official development assistance (ODA). Warning that attacks against multilateral forums pose risks for people around the world, he spotlighted Luxembourg’s participation in the newly launched Alliance for Multilateralism.
The European Union — the world’s “quintessential example of multilateralism” — is a successful project which has allowed the continent to resist the siren call of protectionism and isolationism, he said. However, the bloc now faces conflicts in its own backyard, specifically the Middle East, where peace prospects diminish every year. Drawing attention to new political tensions between Israel and Palestine, and ongoing conflicts in Yemen and Syria, he said Iran must fully respect the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which Luxembourg — and the majority of the international community — continues to support. “No conflict today is limited to its immediate theatre,” he stressed, spotlighting the situation in Libya, and the resulting flow of migrants across continents, as an example.
Highlighting Luxembourg’s longstanding ties with Africa, which are marked by the painful history of slavery, he said human rights violators anywhere in the world must be held responsible for their actions. “Our support for the International Criminal Court is non-negotiable,” he stressed. Meanwhile, the persecution of religious minorities based on faith continues unabated. “Europeans are in no position to lecture others on this,” he said, describing his own emotional visit to the site of the Nazi death camp, Auschwitz. It is critical to recognize that Nazi ideology and other forms of intolerance are again on the rise and he sounded alarm that, in the very halls of the United Nations, attacks on human rights — including women’s right to sexual health and reproductive decision-making — are currently under threat.
MILO ĐUKANOVIĆ, President of Montenegro, noted that data shows there are 70 million displaced persons. The figure represents the highest number of displaced since the Second World War and includes 26 million refugees, half of them under age 18. He pointed to a dramatically high number of children killed or wounded in 2018, most of them in Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen, and a “record number of the youngest” having died in Syria since the beginning of the war there, now in its ninth year. He said solidarity with refugees and displaced persons must not be a matter of political choice but “is above all a matter of humanity”.
He cited the experience of Montenegro which, during the wars in former Yugoslavia, accepted a huge number of refugees, who at one point represented one-fifth of its population. Two decades after the end of conflicts, Montenegro is still working with the region and international community for permanent solutions to those affected by the war. He noted many of those people have integrated with Montenegrin society and have added value to its multi-ethnic harmony. He fully agreed that the burden on host countries is too heavy. Montenegro never refused to host, but today the problems are manifold, involving not just warfare but climate change. No country can deal with migration or climate change alone.
He said the recent climate summit showed existing activity is not adequate to fulfil the Paris climate accord. International responses must be based on continuous engagement on all levels to implement the 2030 Agenda, and new ideas are required to implement and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Montenegro will continue to provide maximum support to achieve the targets and inclusive and sustainable economic growth. Disparities in regional development must be eliminated.
Turning to international conflict, he said those growing threats require a holistic and coordinated prevention-based approach within the United Nations system. The importance of synergy between the Security Council and General Assembly must not be neglected in that domain. However, he said the mechanisms of the Human Rights Council are not used in the proper way, risking repetition of dangerous mistakes from the not-so-distant past. In the Middle East, any spillover of conflict will contribute to humanitarian security crises and be widely destabilizing for the region and the world. Montenegro is committed to supporting global efforts in peace and security and to controlling the spread of arms. Only a secure neighbourhood can guarantee our security.
On human rights, he said equality and non-discrimination are the values that must never be taken for granted. He noted the warning signs of the rise of intolerance, xenophobia, hate speech and anti-Semitism. His Government will continue to strongly support improving gender perspective, especially in preventing sexual violence and abuse, fighting the denial of female peace and dignity, and supporting the women, peace and security agenda and the youth, peace and security agenda.
EVARISTO DO ESPÍRITO SANTO CARVALHO, President of São Tomé and Principe, said poverty is a major driver of hunger, land degradation, unbridled exploitation of natural resources, armed conflict, population displacement, saturation of major urban centres and migratory flows from South to North, “with tragic consequences”. Calling for united efforts to find the best solutions to those challenges — while safeguarding the specificities of countries — he said the destination countries receiving migrant flows should combine their efforts and coordinate refugee reception policies with adequate support to origin countries. Efforts are also needed to resolve the various armed conflicts which unfortunately continue to cloud various regions.
In that regard, he urged the United Nations to create more binding mechanisms to ensure solidarity with the victims of war and terrorism and to create lasting solutions to both old and new conflicts — notably the Israeli-Palestinian, Syrian and Libyan conflicts — as well as the deployment of terrorist groups in the Sahel, East, Central and West Africa. Welcoming some positive developments, he expressed hope that elections scheduled for October in Mozambique will take place in an environment of normalcy, peace and harmony. He also called on the parties in the Sahara to commit to a political process under the auspices of the United Nations until its completion, while welcoming Morocco’s efforts to reach a political settlement on the basis of its proposed autonomy initiative.
Turning to the global threat of climate change — which threatens to jeopardize the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals — he said natural hazards are occurring on a larger and more intense scale, leading to loss of life especially in the world’s less developed regions. Underlining the importance of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to combat that phenomenon, he said the Organization is also the ideal vehicle to harmonize the world while respecting different cultures and systems of Government. For inclusion to become a reality, the United Nations must be reformed and Africa must be given its rightful place with a permanent seat on the Security Council.
São Tomé and Principe, a small island developing State with all the constraints that entails, pursues a policy adapted to its reality with respect for multicultural diversity and human rights. Without mineral resources, and with an economy highly vulnerable to external shocks, the country has faced enormous challenges in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. It is essential that the international community provide the development financing mechanisms announced in previous multilateral forums. “One cannot speak of perennial democratic achievements without sustained economic growth,” he stressed. His country is preparing to graduate from least developed status to that of a middle-income country in 2024, and will require continued support thereafter, he said.
AZALI ASSOUMANI, President of Comoros, said the realities of climate change must be taken seriously, because some regions may simply disappear due to the threat of degradation to their environment. He noted those phenomena spare no country or region, but the conditions of small island developing States are still more worrisome and require particular attention. He noted his country had been devastated by Cyclone Kenneth, with the destruction of almost 80 per cent of agricultural production, as well as roads and hundreds of schools, hospitals and homes, displacing tens of thousands. There was great external and internal mobilization to address the disaster. He said reconstruction will obviously be long and difficult, and counted on international solidarity in that area.
He noted that small island developing States are also confronted by other dangerous phenomena, including maritime piracy, human trafficking at sea, drug trafficking, illegal fishing and pillaging of other ocean resources. His Government welcomes and allies itself with all regional and international initiatives to tirelessly tackle these barbaric acts that threaten all populations, but those actions must be stepped up in collaboration with a network of partners, and those efforts must be collective, coordinated and at a global scale.
On the issue of quality education, he said young people, the leaders of tomorrow, “have their eyes upon us”. They have the right to education, in order to step into those roles, as they can drive economic development and job creation as their entrepreneurship develops. In that way, young people can be protected from falling prey to the lure of extremism of all stripes.
He noted a recent national referendum and constitutional reforms, resulting in his subsequent re‑election, and the election of a woman for the first time in his country. He said he has fought tirelessly for gender equality. He noted the World Bank had recently reclassified Comoros from a less‑developed to a middle‑income country. He called on the international community for continued support, especially in organizing the donors’ conference in Paris in December. Also, at the national level, he noted his Government’s efforts to find an equitable solution to the thorny problem of the Comorian island of Mayotte. Despite this dispute, always unpleasant between friendly countries, the political will and shared commitment motivates both parties.
Promoting peaceful and equitable societies requires the necessary resources to tackle global problems, he stressed. Turning to the Middle East, he cited crises in Syria and Yemen and the issue of “our brotherly people in Palestine”, who are still deprived of their basic rights. The illegal occupation and brutal repression visited upon them feeds into extremism of every kind. It is therefore time for the United Nations, just as it worked for the existence of Israel, to create a Palestinian State which will live in peace with Israel, with East Jerusalem as its capital. His Government is also following recent progress in the political situation of Sudan and hopes this “kindred country” will recover its stability in the interests of the Sudanese people and the whole of Africa. He also stated a terrorist is neither Muslim, Catholic, Jewish or Animist. “A terrorist is a terrorist and a barbarian who defies all religions and rides roughshod over all civilizations,” he said.
LIONEL ROUWEN AINGIMEA, President of Nauru, said that a recent election led to over half the parliamentary seats changing hands. The new administration is upgrading the country’s maritime port, a project jointly funded by the Green Climate Fund, the Asian Development Bank, Australia and the Government of Nauru. In addition, the country is moving forward with its ‘Higher Ground’ initiative, which “represents a historic opportunity to build our resilience to climate change and sea level rise by moving housing and critical infrastructure” away from the vulnerable coasts, he said.
The upside for Nauru is significant, but health and education remain two areas that require attention, he continued. The country is putting into place a new curriculum that will embrace the Nauruan language, cultures and traditions. In addition, his Government will install a water and sewerage reticulation system that will help provide a long‑term water solution for Nauru, which suffers from draught and some of the highest rates of non‑communicable diseases in the world.
Climate change is another challenge, which is why Nauru integrated climate action into its development strategy, he said. “Much progress has been made in reaching our target of generating 50 per cent of our energy from solar by 2020,” he said. This has been accomplished in collaboration with Nauru’s development partners in the United Arab Emirates, New Zealand, the European Union and the Asian Development Bank.
Nauru is highly dependent on the marine resources of the Pacific Ocean for its sustenance and economic development, he continued. “The tuna fishery is worth $6 billion annually and it is one of the best managed fisheries in the world,” he said. However, this fishery is projected to disperse and disappear because of the climate crisis. Sea level rise threatens an “economic Armageddon” if the tuna fishery disappears.
Nauru has a useful plan for improving its efforts in the Samoa Pathway, which highlights its special circumstances and challenges, he said. As a small island development State, Nauru has always called for genuine and durable partnerships. “Partnerships are certainly part of the solution, but they need to be mainstreamed, tailored and SIDS [small island development State] friendly,” he continued. The efforts of the Secretary‑General in spearheading the reform of the United Nations development system are welcome. The recent review of the multi‑country office highlights small islands, including establishing a multi‑country office in the North Pacific, which is a positive step. In addition, Nauru supports the plan to appoint a United Nations Special Representative on climate and security, whose work must begin with an assessment of the Organization’s capacity to respond to climate disasters.
DAVID W. PANUELO, President of the Federated States of Micronesia, called climate change and its far‑reaching effects and threats to the future of small island developing States “unbearable”. “Those of us from low‑lying atolls and coastal areas across the Pacific are living the reality of climate change,” he said, adding: “This reality has become a nightmare.” He called on Member States to take the necessary actions to ensure the very survival of small island developing States. It is impossible to solve climate change without protecting the ocean, he said, noting the various partnerships his country has entered, including with the private sector, to monitor and control fishing activities.
The Federated States of Micronesia enacted a national law making it mandatory for all sectors in the Government to mainstream climate change policies in all action plans, he continued. It also championed the negotiation and adoption of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol to phase down the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons. He called on the international community to put into action this crucial amendment to help fight climate change. A ban on most forms of plastics has reduced the national carbon footprint as well. “These are only some of the initiatives that our country is engaged in to take actions today for our world’s environmental prosperity tomorrow,” he emphasized.
Urging the United Nations system to step up to address climate change as an integral part of its work, he called on the Security Council to transcend its traditional mandates and address the security implications of climate change. The United Nations was formed to prevent the onslaught of a possible third world war. “We are presently in a war against climate change,” he stressed. While it may be very difficult for the international community to do so, Member States owe it to future generations to act to radically combat climate change. “I have faith in the citizens of the United States to keep pushing their Government to embrace renewable energy,” he added, underscoring that a recent meeting with United States President Donald J. Trump is a sign of the enduring relationship between the two countries.
Commending the Secretary‑General for leading the climate action summit, he said that the climate disaster is not just a small island developing States problem. He also underscored that South‑South cooperation remains integral in helping countries fully realize and implement the SDGs. “It will be a travesty if our maritime zones and our rights thereto are challenged or reduced because of sea level rise, to which we are among the least contributors,” he continued. Welcoming the decision of the International Law Commission to study the topic of sea level rise, he urged the international community to develop State practices that respect the permanence of maritime baselines and zones irrespective of sea level rise.
The conservation and sustainable use of the Pacific Ocean is a key driver of the national economy, he continued, stressing that international cooperation is needed to address the large‑scale illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities that ravage the health of fish stocks and undermine economic development. A new approach to meet the challenges of a vast region of the Pacific is essential in its efforts to implement the Samoa Pathway and the 2030 Agenda. “We need a United Nations that can meet these challenges of the twenty‑first century, a United Nations dedicated to act with bold decisions to tackle the security threats of climate change,” he emphasized.
ARTHUR PETER MUTHARIKA, President of Malawi, calling attention to the voiceless people in developing countries, said this generation has a mission in history to do what is right for humankind, with the United Nations being the “ultimate weapon” to make a difference. The world has already declared a war on poverty, to end educational inequality and take action on climate change and fight for the inclusion of minority nations. There are enough means to end poverty, slow climate change, send every child to school and save the planet, but the trouble with multilateralism is that 1 per cent of the world controls 99 per cent of these resources. This global inequality undermines the Organization’s ability to make the world a better place.
Citing the obstacles standing in the way, he said poverty eradication remains elusive. Africa is not poor by the will of its people, but has suffered the worst history of exploitation from slavery, colonialism and the “aid regime” of the last 60 years. “We have built empires and cities of the West with our blood, sweat and minerals,” he said, adding that Africa has given more resources to the developed world than it has received in aid or any rhetoric of philanthropy. The more African nations strive to build their economies, the more climate change undermines such efforts. Yet the leading architects of climate change are outside developing countries.
Elaborating on other challenges, he said addressing poverty requires swift, collective action to empower youth and educate children through examining the root causes and taking concrete measures. For its part, Malawi adopted a growth and development strategy that is already seeing results, targeting ultra‑poor and vulnerable communities, providing free access to basic social services and launching wide‑reaching programmes such as the social cash transfer plan, which benefits 1.2 million people, and targeted projects empowering young people and women. While education is a right, many young people around the world are out of school, leaving them unable to participate in a highly complex global economy, he said, adding that: “We are the ones failing the global child.” Indeed, the world will pay the heavy cost of breeding poverty and ignorance by failing the child, which facilitates the radicalization of youth.
Raising equal alarm at the existential threat stemming from climate change, he said action is also needed in this regard. Recalling that Cyclone Idai caused severe damage, he said Malawi needs $370 million to recover, but has raised only $45 million, and the international community’s support is needed.
He said Malawi is understood to be a “poor country”, but it contributes to international peacekeeping and remains convinced that the United Nations would be more powerful and effective if all nations participated in decision‑making on security. As such, he called for reforming the Security Council to include permanent seats for African countries to represent the continent’s 1.3 billion people. Recalling the way Malawi dealt with the outcome of its election in a democratic manner that abided by the rule of law, he said Malawi remains a peaceful and stable country and one that fights to make life better for everyone.
CHARLES ANGELO SAVARIN, President of Dominica, said that two years ago his country lay in ruins after being ravaged by Category 5 Hurricane Maria. Since then, thousands of homes have been repaired and rebuilt and new resilient housing units have been or plan to be constructed. Public utilities have all been restored and children are back in school. “We acknowledge that we have not done it alone,” he said, commending the support of the international community, including non-governmental organizations and faith-based organizations. “Building resilience is a momentous and expensive task,” he continued, expressing concern for the long gestation period between pledges and commitments and the delivery of those promises.
“We urge those of you who have pledged to support us in creating this new climate resilient nation,” he stressed. Scientists continue to sound the alarm that the rate of global warming is proceeding faster than was originally believed. The impact of climate change is cross-cutting and affects every sector and yet too many countries continue to pursue the same policies. This only contributes to “nature’s angry response to our overindulgence and reckless exploitation of our planet’s resources”. Expressing solidarity with the Bahamas which was recently ravaged by a hurricane, he cautioned that storms will continue to get more intense and frequent.
Climate change has driven millions of people from their homes, resulting in homelessness, starvation, and mental anguish. “Soon the phenomenon of climate refugees will also be a new norm,” he continued, stressing the need to reaffirm commitment to the Paris climate accord. In addition, the issues of accessibility to resources and timely disbursement of funds must be addressed. Following Hurricane Maria, which caused damage and loss estimated at 226 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), great urgency was given to rebuilding Dominica.
As an insignificant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, Dominica is developing its geothermal capabilities and, notwithstanding fiscal challenges, remains committed to providing initial funding for the construction of a megawatt geothermal plant, he said. Dominica also remains committed to preserving the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) as a zone of peace. “Wherever there are uneasy tensions among States, and differences in interpretations of the Constitution within a State, that trigger civil unrest, we call for restraint and for resorting to the table of negotiation and dialogue, to resolve differences,” he said. The only other option is to prolong the suffering of humanity.
The climate is at war with Member States, he said, urging leaders to “not aggravate the situation by creating hostility and war among ourselves, particularly in this hemisphere”. He expressed support to the One-China policy, to negotiations to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, to dialogue to resolve disputes in the Middle East, and called for the lifting of the economic blockade on Cuba. He also called for an end to the unilateral sanctions imposed against Venezuela, which are of no use and only cause misery to that country’s people.
ISMAËL OMAR GUELLEH, President of Djibouti, said multilateralism and its foundation of international cooperation are under repeated attack. This crisis is paradoxical, occurring when the links of interdependence have never been closer. “Multilateral action is crucial” he stated, as solutions to the global challenges of poverty, inequality and climate change require collective engagement. While those challenges affect everyone to varying degrees, the poorest States are the most exposed given their fragility. He noted reports by the World Bank underline the worrisome low level of investment. These developments are particularly worrisome given the need for financing of trillions of dollars, requiring the pooling of resources. Governments must improve the business climate in order to attract investment for sustainable development and focus on long-term investment and innovative solutions.
Since February 2014, Djibouti has offered health-care insurance for working people and also for people with no income. His Government is aiming to expand coverage to migrant and refugee populations and is focused on an integrated digital health-care system that is patient-centred, with the ultimate goal of a universal system. Djibouti is also determined to fight gender inequality, which is at the heart of his Government’s political agenda, working to eradicate political, economic and social obstacles to the progress of women. A law was recently passed raising the quota of female members in the national assembly from 10 to 25 per cent. On climate change, he said the devastation of the Bahamas was on a scale never seen before. He hailed the Secretary-General’s initiative to focus on this phenomenon and its disastrous consequences.
Turning to his continent, he noted the movement to bring peace to the Horn of Africa, indicating complete and lasting peace in the region is possible. He cited good news from Sudan, with the successful negotiations and signature of a power-sharing agreement. Talks in South Sudan are a significant development, marking the renewal of their commitment to form a transitional Government by 12 November. He noted the rise of tensions in Somalia derived from the political dynamic surrounding elections, and also acts of violence by Al-Shabab. Efforts must be stepped up to help the country achieve federal elections, security, economic reforms and debt relief.
He expressed confidence that relations between Djibouti and Eritrea will improve and resolved to promote robust bilateral solutions with all neighbouring countries. He noted efforts by the Ethiopia’s Prime Minister to bring Djibouti and Eritrea together. He said the situation in the Sahel is worrisome, and his Government stands in solidarity with all countries in that region. He urged the international community to mobilize efforts in that region and noted the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) meeting on 14 September. He went on to condemn the 14 September attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities, also expressing concern about the deteriorating health situation in Yemen and affirming solidarity with its legitimate authorities. Djibouti will continue to welcome refugees from Yemen. Noting the resurgence of violence in the occupied Palestinian territories, he condemned plans by Israel to annex land in the Jordan Valley and north of the Dead Sea. With five non-permanent seats on the Council up for election and one of them allocated for Africa, “it is undisputable that Djibouti should be the African Group’s candidate for the seat on the Security Council for the period of 2021-2022”.
TABAN DENG GAI, Vice-President of South Sudan, said that his country is consolidating and streamlining the peace implementation process as the pre-transitional period ends soon. “A new Government of national unity shall be formed by 12 November 2019,” he said. His country is implementing the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan and all parties are working in Juba towards permanently resolving the conflict.
Since the Agreement was signed, the security situation in South Sudan has stabilized, he said. In addition, the national dialogues and the ‘people-to-people’ peace initiatives have made significant strides towards reconciliation and healing in the country. He called for the lifting of all sanctions imposed against South Sudan, its removal from the list of countries supporting terrorism, cancellation of its debts, and the normalization of trade and economic relations.
South Sudan will always seek to maintain good relations with Sudan. “We are one people in two independent countries united through our historical, cultural and social ties,” he said. South Sudan’s President facilitated peace talks with Sudan and the Sudanese armed opposition groups. A road map to achieve this was signed in Juba on 19 September. Negotiations over the final peace agreement between the parties are scheduled to commence in Juba on 14 October. South Sudan, however, is “gravely concerned about the security situation” in Abyei, he said, urging the acceleration of the appointment of the civilian Deputy Head of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei Mission (UNISFA). South Sudan requested that the Security Council expedites its work toward determining Abyei’s final status.
ISATOU TOURAY, Vice-President of the Gambia, praising the “new Gambia” whose story of democracy, freedom and the rule of law began in December 2016, said that her country understands the critical difference that multilateral efforts can make in transforming a society from one of despair to one of hope. For the Gambia’s part, the Government has launched reforms in governance, transitional justice and prudent fiscal management. The Gambia now has — for the first time in its history — a national commission for human rights and for truth, reconciliation and reparations, giving a “small country” a “big voice” on human-rights issues in the continent and beyond. She also detailed the Government’s creation of a separate ministry for women, children and social welfare to address the concerns of these groups and to promote wider social inclusion.
States across the region, she said, face increased threats from terrorism, violent extremism, the proliferation of illicit weapons and drug and human trafficking. Underscoring the urgency of implementing the United Nations integrated strategy for the Sahel, she stated that more international and regional cooperation is needed to address the pervasive insecurity and underdevelopment in this region. Without peace, the Sahel and West Africa will find it difficult to attain the goals of the 2030 and 2063 Agendas. She also welcomed the Secretary—‑General’s proposals for internal reform, and expressed her desire to see increased efficiency and effectiveness of operations in the region — namely, that international actors give priority not only to conflict prevention and sustaining peace, but also to regional and subregional cooperation.
Citing extreme weather events, increasing desertification and deforestation, rising sea levels and irreparable loss of biological diversity as evidence of the reality and urgency of climate change, she stated that the Gambia is committed to implementing the Paris Agreement. Taking an opportunity to address recent political developments in the international arena, she said the Gambia recognizes only one China, called on the United States to end its embargo of Cuba and reiterated her country’s commitment to a two-State solution for the conflict between Israel and Palestine. The Gambia is also ready to lead concerted efforts to take the Rohingya crisis to the International Court of Justice on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). At a time when many are losing faith in the Security Council, she asked those countries standing in the way of reform of the 15-member organ to give way and fully support the Ezulwini Consensus so all States can have the same voice and standing in decision-making.
ZORAN ZAEV, President of the Government of North Macedonia, said that the Prespa agreement — settling a 27-year-old disagreement with Greece over the name of his country — demonstrates the power of diplomacy and dialogue and serves as an instrumental example for the settlement of other issues. At a time when the world must unite to confront emerging challenges and recommit to common values of peace, democracy, human rights, rule of law and sustainable development, a strong United Nations must “stand and deliver for all”.
The world continues to struggle with phenomena that transcend borders, he continued, out of the zone of individual control. The August loss of an Icelandic glacier should be a warning to the globe, and the international community must urgently commit to mitigate climate change. For its part, North Macedonia reaffirms its commitment to the Paris Agreement and — as this global undertaking must also be supported by efforts at home — has increased its national contributions to the accord via national law and policy. Relatedly, he stated that his country is committed to implementing the 2030 Agenda and integrating the Sustainable Development Goals into national strategic documents and local plans.
He also said that North Macedonia will continue contributing to multilateral efforts aimed at combating terrorism, pointing to serious situations in Syria, Yemen, Libya, Afghanistan, the Middle East and Africa that deserve the full attention of the international community and require effective diplomacy. North Macedonia has been on the frontlines of the migration crisis for years and has experienced its impact first-hand, and the United Nations and regional organizations should jointly address its underlying causes and filter out the positives of migration flows in an effort to turn the crisis into an opportunity. On this, North Macedonia will be an active collaborator.
On the threat misinformation and disinformation poses to global democratic governance, he expressed a need to pull resources, streamline joint efforts and employ a multi-stakeholder approach to combat this challenge. He also underlined his country’s support of actions aimed at countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the illegal arms trade. North Macedonia remains a strong supporter of multilateralism, he concluded, and will continue to work with all stakeholders in today’s fragmented world. While the commitments made in the General Assembly “echo across the globe”, it is domestic policy that secures the protection of human rights and individual well-being. Let the actions of the international community, he urged, promote a better world for all.
ISRAEL KATZ, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Israel, noting he is the son of Holocaust survivors, stated his country is a real democracy for all its citizens, Jewish and non-Jewish alike. He added “but, first of all, Israel is the ‘nation-State’ of the Jewish people based on thousands of years of Jewish history and the right of the Jewish people to its own homeland”. He called on all countries to follow the United States in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Stating Israel has signed peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan and is working to advance relations with other regional Arab States, he called on the Palestinian Authority to “stop encouraging and financing terrorism”, recognize the right of the Jewish people to its own State and return to direct negotiations without preconditions. Noting that “terrorist organization Hamas” is holding two Israeli citizens and the bodies of two of his country’s soldiers in Gaza, he said the United Nations must implement decisions made on the issue and not allow any State to provide aid to Gaza until they are returned to their families.
Stating that Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had attacked Israel, he accused him of brutally oppressing the Turkish people, slaughtering the Kurdish minority and supporting Hamas, saying “You are the last one that can lecture Israel”. He said the main problem threatening stability and security in the Middle East is Iran, which threatens to destroy Israel, and uses “proxy terror organizations” Hizbullah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Houthis and Shiite militias against his country. He stated the country had launched missiles at Saudi oil facilities to destabilize world oil supplies, a “serious escalation” done on the direct orders of Iranian leader Ali Khamenei. “Iran is the biggest terror State and the biggest sponsor of terror in the world,” he said, calling on the international community to unite to stop it and prevent it from developing nuclear or ballistic weapons. The United Nations must declare Hizbullah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard to be terror organizations.
However, he noted the Middle East also presents opportunities for cooperation and advancing the economies of all countries. He and Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have developed the “Tracks for Regional Peace” initiative, connecting Arab Gulf States by rail through Jordan to ports in Haifa, and intend to connect the Palestinian Authority to the project to boost its economy. “We have no conflict with the Gulf States and have common interests in the field of security against the Iranian threat,” he added, turning to the potential benefits of Israeli high-tech, innovation, agriculture and water technology. The Gulf States also have capabilities that can help Israel.
PÉTER SZIJJÁRTÓ, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Hungary, said that the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration was endorsed in the General Assembly less than a year ago. Since then “more and more people are hitting the road” putting additional security pressures on sovereign States. The issue of migration again rules the issue of global affairs. He recalled that the responsibility of the United Nations is to uphold international law. Migration is not a fundamental human right and yet the United Nations promotes migration. Everybody has the right to live under peaceful, safe and secure circumstances in his or her home country. Instead of promoting the existing fundamental human rights, the Global Compact for Migration outwardly promotes the movement of people. “This, we find unacceptable,” he stressed.
The United States, Israel, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland voted against the Global Compact, with Brazil joining in on that later, he recalled, underscoring that the votes prevented consensus on the “most dangerous United Nations document ever”. During the last year, there have been numerous attempts to push the Compact part-by-part. “We reject these attempts,” he continued, stressing that Hungary will reject all future resolutions and documents that refer to the Compact. More than 1 million illegal migrants have in the last several years “invaded” Europe, due to the hypocritical policy passed in Brussels to “weaken the Member States [of the European Union] and create the United States of Europe”. Hungary rejects this. “We are proud that we can preserve Hungary as a Hungarian State,” he said, recalling his nation’s Christian heritage. “We are proud to be true patriots for whom country remains first,” he stressed.
Smugglers and organized crime groups earn millions from an uncontrolled influx of migrants, he emphasized, cautioning that the flow of migrants also gives terrorist organizations a venue to send their fighters around the world. The United Nations should play a leading role in resolving conflicts, helping countries, particularly in Africa, to develop, and help displaced people return to their homes. Hungary respects its obligation to protect its citizens. “That is why we strictly and committedly protect our borders,” he said, also adding: “The only way to come to Hungary is the legal way.” The United Nations promotes the idea of encouraging migrants to violate sovereign borders. Non-governmental organizations do not represent nations. “Actually, it is the elected officials who get authorization of the people,” he emphasized, urging the United Nations to stop “portraying migration as the best instrument for demographic and market challenges to be addressed”. Hungary has helped Christian communities in the Middle East and continues to rebuild churches and schools there. “Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world,” he added.
ALEXANDER SCHALLENBERG, Federal Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs of Austria, said multilateral diplomacy has entered a period of crisis. “There must be a rules-based international order where good governance, open markets and the notion of pacta sunt servanda prevail,” he said. On climate change, he noted that thus far, 2018 was the hottest year on record in Austria, which is firmly committed to the Paris Agreement and working towards Europe becoming the world’s first climate neutral continent, with zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. The “very ambitious” announcement of the Green New Deal for Europe sends a strong signal to the world.
Turning to armed conflict in Syria and Iraq, with hundreds of thousands of victims and displaced persons, he noted that ISIL has been defeated on the ground but that victims of their crimes deserve justice. His Government therefore continues to strongly support referring the situation to the International Criminal Court and calls for a special criminal tribunal in the region to ensure accountability for the most serious crimes. With most conflicts today fought in urban areas, humanitarian law is often violated. He noted that when explosive weapons are used in populated areas, 91 per cent of casualties are civilians “which is simply unacceptable and intolerable”. He announced a conference in Vienna on 1 and 2 October to address protection of civilians.
Given the end of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, he stated medium-range missiles must not be deployed in Europe and urged the United States and the Russian Federation to refrain from taking any steps in that direction, calling for an extension of the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. Saying “the current narrative that nuclear weapons are necessary for survival is not only wrong — it is outright dangerous,” he also urged all States to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
IBRAHIM BIN ABDULAZIZ AL-ASSAF, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia, said that the 14 September attacks on his country’s oil facilities violated the principles of the United Nations and threatened the security, stability and prosperity of the region and the world. The perpetrators of the attacks are also responsible for other assaults on commercial tankers in the Gulf of Oman in June and July, the attacks on Ahba airport in July and the Shaybah oil field in August. These actions “have exposed the Iranian regime before the entire world; we are dealing with a rogue and terrorist system”, he said.
The United Nations and the world should use every tool available to “end the terrorist and aggressive conduct of the Iranian regime”, he said. Appeasing Iran through partial agreements has only increased its “terrorist and aggressive activities over the last four years”. By cutting off the sources of Iran’s finance, the international community can compel Tehran to renounce its militias, prevent it from developing ballistic missiles and end its destabilizing activities in the region and the world. Iran must become a normal State or “face an international unified position that uses all instruments of pressure and deterrence”, he said.
VLADIMIR MAKEI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belarus, reflecting on the atrocities of the Second World War that led to the creation of a new world order aimed at avoiding new conflict, said that the world today is closer than ever to disaster. Modern issues, such as ensuring peace and security, promoting sustainable development and addressing climate change, demonstrate the inadequacy of States acting alone. Global challenges require effective, ambitious joint solutions, and he urged that the United Nations must lead international efforts because of its universal composition and mandate. The seventy-fifth session of the United Nations in 2020 must not be for show, or everyone will lose as the “sinister spectre” of a third world war becomes a reality.
The events of the past few months, he continued, require a new diplomatic process, similar to the Helsinki accords of the 1970s. The August suspension of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty — and the resultant threat that short- and medium-range missiles will be deployed in various regions of the world — threaten to lead to new military and possibly nuclear confrontations. The international community must take immediate joint action to preserve this accord and, for its part, Belarus does not intend to produce or deploy these types of missiles. He urged the immediate preparation of a draft declaration preventing their deployment or production, stating that “the road is conquered by the one who walks.”
Highlighting the increasing role that technology plays in the modern world, he cautioned that technological advancements can be used for ill as well as good, pointing to the recent drone attacks on oil installations in Saudi Arabia. Belarus strongly condemns such actions, and urges that evil should not be allowed to dominate cyberspace. On this, he proposed the formation of a coalition of “good cyberneighbourhood” and responsible conduct in cyberspace. Turning to climate change, he said that the world is “close to the point of no return” unless decisive action is taken. While international efforts lag behind, the climate action summit offers hope. Belarus intends to reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases by 35 per cent by 2030. The international community must restore trust at a global and regional level, he concluded, and States must learn to be good neighbours and tackle problems together.
JEPPE KOFOD, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Denmark, said that for more than 40 years his country has delivered on the promise of providing at least 0.7 per cent of its wealth in ODA. Denmark has also set one of the most ambitious climate targets in the world: 70 per cent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and climate neutrality with net-zero emissions by 2050 at the latest. With nearly 1 billion of the world’s people currently living without electricity, the clean energy transition will neither be socially sustainable nor fair “if we leave those people in the dark”. “We must leave no one behind on our path to a carbon neutral world, at peace with the planet,” he added, pledging his country’s ambitions to reduce deforestation. Denmark will also continue working with the international investment community to mobilize much needed private capital for green energy by 2020. “We must ensure that the ships connecting our world are not a danger to our planet,” he added.
Stressing the need to include the voices of young people in the halls of power and harness technological advances and innovation, he emphasized the importance of promoting gender equality and “the right of every woman to decide over her own body”. Denmark continues to work with Ethiopia on energy and Kenya on gender equality as part of his Government’s initiative to ensure sustainable development for all. “We must realize the full potential of all continents — including Africa where a proud history, natural wealth, and a young, energetic population forms a powerful base for progress,” he said. Denmark will support closer partnerships between Europe and Africa on multiple issues, including trade, development and security. Turning to international peace and security, he expressed support to the Secretary-General’s focus on prevention, early response to conflicts and inclusion of regional actors. “It is more important than ever to promote a human rights culture within the United Nations,” he stressed.
JOSEPH MUSCAT, Prime Minister of Malta, said that the advancements made by Malta in the field of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) community are often described as a global “gold standard” by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Malta is now the leading European country in protecting LGBTIQ people in areas of equality and non-discrimination. “Our experience has taught us that empowering citizens and ensuring that they have a voice in addressing and resolving issues that concern them is an important part of Malta’s success,” he said. Autonomy and empowerment are values that Malta’s legislation seeks to mainstream.
“The future is female,” he said, also adding: “We need to understand that we cannot succeed when approximately half of our global population is being held back.” Women have for centuries played an important role in society. On a national level, Malta has been promoting numerous initiatives which underscore the country’s commitment to gender equality. Noting the various social benefits afforded to Malta’s citizens, he said that the Government has replaced its passive benefit system with an active system that “puts people back on their feet”. Malta also introduced universal free childcare for all working parents.
Affirming that gender balance in politics is critical, he said that Malta launched a reform proposing affirmative action that can help it bridge the gap. “We have to come to terms that societal advancement has always been equated with empowerment,” he emphasized. Good health, well-being, and quality inclusive education are fundamental human rights and are indispensable for the achievement of sustainable development. All children, boys and girls, must have access to good quality health and education.
Malta remains committed to providing an education system where children can develop their personal and social potential, he continued, underscoring that his country also recognizes the importance of working towards equality of outcomes for all. This approach should be complemented by individualized and tailored approaches for children with disabilities to ensure that no child is left behind. Sustainable development is all about current and future generations and not solely limited to specific economic sectors or social strata.
LEJEUNE MBELLA MBELLA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cameroon, said that multilateralism stands as the appropriate strategy to combat the many problems of our time, including migratory flows, poverty, climate change and the ills of social media. Establishing a “new international order”, one that is equitable in nature, is fundamental to ensuring that future generations live in a fairer and safer world, he continued. Security Council reform is crucial, as is reform of global economic institutions. “All countries, particularly on the African continent, should take up their right place in this, the house of nations,” he said.
Cameroon has made major investments in infrastructure, education and health, and it was one of the earliest countries to sign the Paris Agreement on climate change. However, the country faces major challenges, particularly in the north-west and south-west, he said. Separatist groups have sought to breach Cameroon’s sovereignty, unity and stability, using violence to loot, kidnap and kill. This violence has prompted large flows of displaced persons into neighbouring countries, he said. Nonetheless, Cameroon’s Government is succeeding in getting this problem under control, and it is not a threat to regional peace, let alone international. The Cameroon President’s national dialogue promises to be a huge success, fostering dialogue among all parts of society.
MIGUEL VARGAS MALDONADO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic, highlighting his country’s first non-permanent position on the Security Council, stated that the debate on climate disasters and their effects on international peace and security started by his country now has new relevance as forest fires burn in the Amazon and Hurricane Dorian ravages the region. For the Caribbean region, climate change is “real, visible and devastating” and threatens the very existence of States in that area. Relatedly, the world has little over a decade to implement the 2030 Agenda, and it is up to each State to verify progress achieved and challenges that remain to ensure success in achieving the Agenda’s goals. For its part, the Dominican Republic has prioritized combating poverty and hunger by, among other measures, ensuring access to credit and developing rural areas.
As a result, he said, poverty has been reduced — especially in rural areas — and the Dominican Republic has reduced hunger more than any other Latin American State over the past decade. It has also allocated 4 per cent of its GDP towards providing inclusive and quality education. Reflecting on the thirtieth anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, he stated that the Dominican Republic is committed to ensuring that every child’s rights are respected by providing inclusive education, reducing infant mortality, eradicating child labour and ensuring that all children and teenagers live a full, safe and happy life.
Inclusion must go beyond meeting needs, he continued, describing the “new poor” who lack access to technology and knowledge rather than food and housing. As technological advancements are poised to transform current economies, 50 per cent of jobs may be lost in the next 20 years. As this threatens to create huge differences between States that are integrated in this new age and those who are not, he appealed to the international community to steer the world away from the path of inequality that this model of technological development is currently on and requested those States who are leaders in technological progress to assist with this process. The world must “focus on the present without losing sight of the future”, he urged, to build a future that is more just, prosperous and sustainable for all.
ALAIN CLAUDE BILIE BY NZE, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Gabon, said recent climate events like Hurricane Dorian show the risks of climate change. Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe are also struggling to regain their feet after disasters. The world must act collectively for peace and preservation of the environment. In the four years since adoption of 2030 Agenda and then the Paris Agreement, he noted with regret the paltry results achieved. Still, some flagrantly and openly deny the reality of climate change. Words must become actions to expedite global commitments.
Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals requires that more people rally behind the cause and pool resources, he continued. As oil and commodity prices fall, countries like Gabon suffer a widening public deficit. He said international solidarity is required to benefit developing countries in implementing the Goals, including transfer of technologies and help in transferring to clean fuels. Now is the time to move beyond rhetoric to ensure that projects are implemented to protect biodiversity. Finance and mobilization strategies must be effective, he stated, which demands external support that considers the unique features of each State. Gabon is improving living standards, and implementing climate strategies to protect biodiversity, and was declared the first African country to receive international funds to prevent deforestation.
His Government stands with the United Nations in supporting the Central African Republic, and an inclusive peace agreement signed by all parties to conflict in Khartoum and calls for lifting the weapon embargo there. Similarly, lasting solutions must be found for problems in Cameroon. He called for lifting the embargo on the people of Cuba, which prevents them from achieving the Goals. Multilateralism must prevail worldwide with no one excluded.
Right of Reply
The representative of Azerbaijan, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, refuted assertions made by the representative of Armenia, who manipulated history for territorial claims. Attempts at territorial expansion in the region have been accompanied by massacres and the deportation of Azerbaijani citizens. He added that the Nagorno-Karabakh region has been confirmed by the Security Council as an integral part of Azerbaijan and attempts to claim it are unlawful. What the Armenia representative calls self-determination is a gross violation of the rights of Nagorno-Karabakh residents. Human rights and freedoms must be respected on a non-discriminatory basis, while Armenia’s policies discriminate on ethnic grounds. Armenia refuses to recognize Azerbaijani residents of Nagorno-Karabakh and prevents them from returning to their homes. He noted the Prime Minister of Armenia spoke of peaceful resolution of the conflict, but “mere words are not sufficient”, especially when the deeds of Yerevan run contrary, as do its inflammatory statements and actions on the ground. He demanded the restoration of internationally recognized territorial borders of his country and the return of displaced persons. Armenia must drop the futile status quo.
The representative of Armenia responded that the Azerbaijan representatives misstated the root causes of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. On 20 February 1988, Nagorno-Karabakh requested Soviet Armenia and Soviet Azerbaijan to respect the Armenian population there. He cited the deportation of 400,000 Armenians and ethnic cleansing, those massacres having been condemned by the international community. He stated that Nagorno-Karabakh gained its independence with the collapse of the Soviet Union. A referendum was held there on 10 December 1991, with the Azerbaijani population there invited to take part. He stated that Nagorno-Karabakh has never been part of an independent Azerbaijan. Armenians have always represented the majority of the population there, and he expressed regret over the Azerbaijan representative’s selective references to Council resolutions. After 25 years of ceasefire, a complete one has yet to be achieved. He said the main obstacle to conflict resolution consists of Azerbaijani actions that impede it and undermine the peace process, with ongoing destabilizing military build-ups and subversive actions. Armenia seeks to go beyond the status quo and reach a negotiated settlement. He also noted that the glorification of hate crimes against Armenians have become part of the policy of Azerbaijani rulers. He reminded that the conflict is not about territories but the rights of indigenous people living there for millennia, and Azerbaijan refuses to recognize the rights of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh to self-determination.
The representative of Azerbaijan said that Armenia has resorted to force, violence and terrorist activities to realize its “groundless and lawless” territorial claims and continues to “occupy” Nagorno-Karabakh in violation of the Charter of the United Nations, international law and relevant Security Council resolutions. He stated that the international community recognizes Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan. Further, Armenia’s actions following its disregard of the Council’s demand for a cessation of hostilities after that country’s 1992 and 1993 attacks on Azerbaijan show that Yerevan’s allegations are baseless and that it is at fault for continued hostilities in the region. Armenia has consistently obstructed the negotiation process, he said, and continues to escalate the situation on the ground. Armenia should be the last one commenting on human rights in other countries, and that country poses a serious threat to peace and stability in the region.
The representative of Armenia responded that protracted conflicts cannot be resolved by protracted accusations, and that the people of Nagorno-Karabakh have been de facto independent since the dissolution of the Soviet Union when they exercised their right to self-determination. Azerbaijan, he continued, has rejected dialogue with Nagorno-Karabakh from the beginning, and pursues a policy of violent oppression of the free will of the people living there. These people face an “existential threat” from Azerbaijan, and their safety and security is an “absolute priority” for Armenia. Nagorno-Karabakh is not a no-man’s-land, he urged, but populated by indigenous people. Reiterating that there is no military solution to this conflict, he said that Azerbaijan’s hostile rhetoric casts doubt on the possibility of compromise and evidences animosity, not peace.